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NWS Looks Into Possible Tornadoes in Orange County, NY And Parts Of CT

National Weather Service teams are headed out to parts of the WAMC listening area to determine if any tornadoes touched down Thursday. Though power outages and damage were not as widespread as from Tropical Storm Isaias in early August, there were intense pockets.

Tornado alerts rang into cell phones and interrupted radio broadcasts mid-to-late afternoon Thursday for parts of Greene and Ulster Counties, followed by portions of northern Dutchess. Four hours later, a strong storm whipped through areas in Orange County, and a National Weather Service team is headed out to the Montgomery area to investigate. Montgomery Town Supervisor Brian Maher sent photos to the National Weather Service.

“Right here, in parts of the Village of Montgomery and the Town of Montgomery, we were hit very hard by what we believe to be a tornado or a very severe storm cell. And this happened around 6 p.m., around that time. We had a tremendous amount of trees down, of poles down, live wires down, and Central Hudson and NYSEG were deployed with a large amount of teams to assess the damage, to clean up the roads, which were blocked off. We had our police departments, our local DPWs, Orange County Emergency Management, Homeland Security came in, the governor’s office checked in on us, and all of the resources at our disposal were given to us, and some pretty amazing first responders worked through the night to get roads cleared and people’s power back on,” Maher says. “We still have several hundred individuals in our town alone that are without power, and I’ve been getting constant updates from both NYSEG and Central Hudson to ensure that power is brought back on, but they certainly are giving us the resources we need, and we are all communicating with one another to make sure that we maximize the response and get things up and running. But we’re truly lucky, I believe, with the storm that we got hit with, this potential tornado, that nobody was seriously injured or killed.”

He and Village of Montgomery Mayor Steve Brescia declared states of emergency. The National Weather Service teams that cover the New York City metropolitan area are heading to Orange County this afternoon to determine whether a tornado hit, as well as to parts of New Haven County, Connecticut. Andrei Evbuoma is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Albany office, which concentrates on areas further north

“And we saw a lot of wind damage, thunderstorm wind damage reports, a lot of trees down, power lines down across the area. Mostly, most of it was predominantly was across the southern counties, so Ulster, Dutchess, into Litchfield County,” Evbuoma says. “We do not have tornado reports at this time. Our warning coordination meteorologist is going to be going out later this afternoon, I believe in Litchfield County, to see if there were any tornado damage, to confirm.”

That’s Litchfield County, Connecticut, and the area of investigation is around Kent. Earlier this month, utility companies came under fire for their preparation for and response to Tropical Storm Isaias, after which New York Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered the Public Service Commission to investigate. The storm left some customers without power, Internet and cell service for days; some had no power for more than a week.  Since, the state Department of Public Service has completed the first phase of its investigation and sent so-called Notice of Apparent Violation letters to four electric service providers — Con Edison, Orange & Rockland, PSEG LI and Central Hudson — and telephone, cable and internet provider Altice-Optimum that they now face steep penalties and must take immediate corrective actions so that similar failures are not repeated during the remainder of hurricane season. Speaking Thursday, Cuomo commented ahead of the storms that hit later in the day.

“Don’t be surprised utility company, and don’t say, oh, it was a storm, it was an act of God. No, it’s an act of a utility company,” Cuomo says. “We pay you to be prepared for the storm and to repair power in a short period of time after a storm.”

DPS is still threatening to pursue franchise revocations for Con Edison and Orange & Rockland. Central Hudson was cited for inadequate communications capacity at its back-up data center, leading to its website becoming unavailable to customers. John Maserjian is Poughkeepsie-based Central Hudson spokesman.

“We realize the seriousness of this. Communication is as important as restoration when it comes to a major storm like this,” says Maserjian. “So we’ve taken many steps, so far, to address that problem so that it won’t happen again in the future.”

He says damage to the company’s Internet provider’s fiber cable cut service to a large area. Central Hudson’s computer systems were fine; it was the connectivity that was cut.

Tropical Storm Irene hit portions of the Hudson Valley nine years ago in August. And Superstorm Sandy hit a year later at the end of October.

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