Weather 101: 25th Anniversary of the July 14/15th “Ontario/ Adirondack Derecho”

Weather 101

July 14th 1995 was a very hot afternoon with highs in the mid to upper 90’s, in fact it set a record high for the date in Albany of 99 degrees… No one suspected that a very powerful storm system would be dropping out of Ontario during the overnight hours bringing widespread damage from the Adirondacks to the Berkshires.

A derecho moved into New York State from Ontario between 4 and 430 in the morning, very severe wind damage occurred especially along the most bowed out segment of the storm, winds estimated at that time were to be 100 mph or greater, this happened at several locations from Jefferson and Western St. Lawrence counties and continued into the Adirondack region.

11 People were injured and unfortunately 5 other lost their lives when this storm blew through. This was mainly due to the fact many people were out camping when the storms hit and were struck by trees while they were sleeping.

Over 30 people had to be rescued by helicopter because their paths out of the forests were blocked off by fallen trees. The NYS DEC estimates that nearly 900,000 acres of forest were damaged and the cost associated with those damages was around $200 million in 1995 dollars.

In the more populated locations of New York State almost $190 million in damage was done to both structures and vehicles. Syracuse International airport reported a gust of 76 mph at 5:30 in the morning, in less than an hour this storm was already in Albany and a gust of 77 mph was recorded at the Albany International Airport. Over 100,000 people lost power due to the powerful winds that blew through with the storm.

This derecho continued with full force into New England but by 9:30 in the morning it was already off shore near Cape Cod. Wind gusts in Massachusetts were much stronger than here in Albany with a peak gust of 92 mph in Otis, 85 mph in Upton and 63 MPH at Blue Hill Observatory. Again, many trees were blocking roadways in the aftermath, and 1 person was killed and another injured after being struck by falling trees.

This is one of the most costly severe thunderstorm events to ever occur in North America in the 20th century with nearly a half a billion dollars in damage. This storm flew across an 800 mile path in 12 hours, moving around 67 mph and even faster at times…

This was not the only derecho that occurred during this time frame… There were a total of 4 derechos that impacted Central and Eastern United States during the middle of July 1995 and it still is one of the most noteworthy series of derechos to have occurred in these areas in the last 50 years.

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