National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

A long lived severe convective wind system or derecho moved across areas of New York on September 6th and 7th 1998. This caused widespread damage, and unfortunately some injuries and deaths across the area.

Below shows the line of thunderstorms moving across parts of New York. The loop is from 12:04 AM EDT to 03:02 AM EDT September 7, 1998. Either move your mouse over the image or click to start the loop

Animated GIF radar loop. No audio


Some pictures of the damage from the Syracuse, NY area.  Click for a larger view.

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The following are selected excepts from Storm Event Database:

Seneca County: Widespread wind damage occurred in the town of Waterloo and also across Seneca Falls. Most of the damage was in the form of downed trees and power lines. From approximately 12:55 AM to 01:10 AM EDT, the town of Waterloo experienced strong damaging winds and large hail. Many roads in the center of town had to be closed through the morning hours on Labor Day as crews worked to clear fallen trees, live wires, and damaged traffic signals. Downstream in Seneca Falls, similar damage was reported. Just before 01:20 AM EDT, a swath of trees was blown down on the western shores of Cayuga Lake and inflicted minor damage on several small boats anchored in the vicinity. Several vacation homes in this area incurred minor roof and siding damage from large tree limbs which succumbed to the wind.

Cayuga County: The derecho which inflicted wind damage upstream to the northwest, including Seneca county, ripped across northern and central parts of Cayuga county between 01:00 and 01:30 AM EDT. Much wind damage resulted. Most of the damage was in the form of downed trees and power lines, but there was a concentrated area of structural damage from Port Byron southwestward to Montezuma. The line of severe thunderstorms first entered the county around 01:00 AM EDT and affected an area from Montezuma to Throop to Port Byron between 01:00 and 01:10 AM EDT. It was in this region that the greatest damage occurred in the county. In the town of Port Byron, a 150 year old Presbyterian Church was nearly leveled by the ferocity of the wind. Portions of its steeple and bell tower were blown several hundred yards and actually caused some damage to adjacent structures. In Montezuma and Throop, many trees and utility poles were uprooted, with several landing on nearby cars and homes. Dozens of homes in this area sustained siding and/or roof damage. In the city of Auburn, the storm came through around 01:15 AM EDT and felled numerous trees and power lines. On the north side of town, damage to homes was more pronounced with roofs torn off of several buidings, including a department store. A few minor injuries were caused by flying debris in this section of town. The storms exited the county shortly before 01:25 AM EDT with more tree damage in the town of Owasco. Ten vacation homes in the Highland Beach area on the eastern side of Owasco Lake took on minor damage in the form of blown out windows, ripped off shingles, and damaged aluminum siding. Damage estimates were close to 20 million dollars for the county. Portions of Port Byron and Auburn in the hardest hit areas were without electrical power for close to 3 days.

Onondaga County: Widespread structural damage resulted and tens of thousands of trees were toppled in northern portions of the county. Direct human impact was also felt. Two fatalities and seven injuries occurred at the New York State Fairgrounds in Geddes. The bow echo complex first entered northwestern sections of the county just after 01:00 AM EDT. It initially tore through the Baldwinsville area, leaving many streets littered with downed trees and utility poles. The storms progressed rapidly towards the east-southeast and affected an area from Clay across Onondaga Lake to Camillus and Geddes from 01:15 to 01:20 AM EDT. Severe damage was inflicted upon the State Fairgrounds in Geddes. Most of the temporary holding structures or tents on the premises were either completely destroyed or sustained heavy damage. Unfortunately, two individuals who were camping out before the last day of the New York State Fair died that night. A 26 year old man was killed when he was struck by flying debris from a nearby building. A 38 year old man, who was a vendor at the Fair, was killed when a large tree fell upon the tent where he was sleeping. Seven other individuals had minor injuries, mostly cuts and scrapes from flying glass. Three large flag poles at the entrance to the Fairgrounds were bent to almost a 45 degree angle from the force of the wind. Many permanent buildings had roofs torn off, windows blown out, or siding severely damaged from felled trees. In Marcellus and Camillus Townships, an estimated thousands of trees were blown down just in this area alone. The Onondaga Hill section appeared to take on particularly severe damage with most roadways rendered completely impassable from downed trees and live wires. Several homes also had various degrees of siding and roof damage in this vicinity, mainly from falling trees. The storms then took aim on the Syracuse metropolitan area. From approximately 01:25 to 01:35 AM EDT, the city of Syracuse felt the brunt of the derecho. An estimated many thousands of trees were toppled or damaged throughout the city. One of the hardest hit sections was the Thornden Park area near Syracuse University. In addition to tree damage, there was substantial structural damage (primarily roofs) to nearby homes and buildings. Another fatality occurred in this vicinity when a large tree crashed through the roof of a home and struck an elderly woman who was sleeping. She later died from extensive head injuries. A textile factory had its roof almost completely torn away and many housing units for students at Syracuse University had blown out windows or damaged sections of the roof. St. Lucy's Church, a sturdy brick structure, was nearly destroyed when its western steeple collapsed. Many windows were also blown in at the University Hospital. On the north side of town, an official wind gust to 75 mph was recorded at Hancock International Airport. The storms maintained their intensity as they moved rapidly through the eastern suburbs. Large hail to one inch in diameter was observed by a skywarn spotter in Manlius. Another spotter in DeWitt measured a wind gust of 75 mph. Much in the way of downed trees and structural damage was again reported. A strip mall and fire station both in the town of Manlius had their roofs entirely torn off. Two large antennas just south of Interstate 481 in DeWitt collapsed and interrupted local radio broadcasts. In all, the financial toll from damage fell just short of 100 million dollars. The final day of the New York State Fair was cancelled and the National Guard was called on to help with the cleanup efforts. Onondaga county ultimately qualified for federal disaster funds after officials toured the area and reviewed post-storm damage surveys. These surveys revealed a damage swath 10 to 12 miles long and nearly 30 miles wide. Estimated peak wind gusts were near 115 mph. Hundreds of thousands of people were without power for much of Labor Day. Some customers did not have their power restored for the better part of a week.

Oneida County: The derecho continued to progress quickly towards the east-southeast. It inflicted more widespread wind damage down the western Mohawk Valley. Tree and structural damage was quite common over central and southern sections of the county. Additional reports of large hail were also noted. Severe storms initially entered the county in Verona just before 02:00 AM EDT. A large swath of trees was toppled or damaged just north of the Thruway and along route 31 near Verona Station and Dams Corners. Portions of route 31 became impassable as large tree limbs and power lines blocked the roadway. Further downstream from Westmoreland southward to the Waterville area, more extensive tree damage was seen. Several homes in Westmoreland suffered structural damage as large trees crashed through the roof or the garage. From roughly 02:15 to 02:20 AM EDT, the storms tore through the Utica and New Hartford areas with considerable tree damage. In downtown Utica, many of the primary thoroughfares were closed through at least the morning hours on Labor Day as streets were covered with large tree limbs, downed wires, and warped traffic signals. A portion of Interstate 790 just north of Utica was also closed for a short time as a large road sign was toppled onto the highway. In New Hartford, a restaurant had its windows blown out with major damage to the kitchen and seating areas from flying glass and debris. Large hail to golf ball sized in diameter was observed in Clinton and Kirkland. Several automobiles had dents and other minor damage from the hailstones. Again, tens of thousands of customers spent most of Labor Day in the dark. Some homes and businesses in the harder hit areas of Utica and Waterville did not have power restored for up to 4 days.

Additional informations: