1995 Derecho Anniversary… First Hand Account from Steve Caporizzo

Weather 101

If you lived in the Capital Region in 1995 then I am sure you remember very well about the storm that rolled through much of the region on the morning of July 15th.

This storm is classified as a derecho, or a line of intense, widespread windstorms and sometimes thunderstorms that move across a great distance and is characterized by damaging winds. In the case of the derecho that moved through the Capital region winds were gusting close to 100 mph at times and at the Albany International Airport there was a peak gust of 77 mph.

“That’s a day I’ll never forget,” Cap said, “I was working that Friday night, it was an early Saturday morning and it was one of those unpredictable things. You know, there were a couple of thunderstorms at midnight just north of Lake Ontario and you didn’t think much of it.”

It was a very hot and humid day on July 14th, setting a new record high for the day of 99 degrees. An ongoing heat wave had been pushing to the east coast for several days and a boundary setup on the north side of that heat. North of the boundary was cooler and drier air, south of the boundary it was hot and humid. Storms took advantage of this clash of air masses and developed along the boundary and became quite intense.

Cap was doing some early morning fishing with his brother in Richfield Springs on Canadarago Lake when the storm hit.

“About 5, 5:15 we could see some lightning in the distant horizon and I say okay, let’s stay close to shore,” Cap said. It wouldn’t be much later and the storm was already there. “It was about 5:30 and I look across and literally only a mile away the shoreline totally disappeared and when it disappeared I said to my brother, we gotta get to shore, we gotta get to shore, It was dead calm, there was just some rumbles.”

“We jumped on land threw the boat up, jumped on land, literally laid on our bellies, bear hugging on the ground the base of trees. I’m gonna say 70-90 mph winds went right over us, trees were snapping everywhere, it’s the closest that we’ve both ever come to being killed,” Said Cap.

As you could imagine widespread damage was reported from the Adirondacks through the Berkshires. Along with damage, multiple people lost their lived and several people were injured, some even needed to be helicoptered out of the Adirondack Park. Getting to or from the Adirondacks after this storm was nearly impossible for days.

Cap says the trip back home took much longer than it would have had this storm not hit. Mainly due to just the shear number of trees and power lines that were blocking roadways, and remember, 25 years ago we didn’t have cell phones or easy access to GPS.

This was one of a series of four derechos which resulted in a total of 14 deaths, close to 100 people injured and close to 500 million up to 1 billion dollars worth of damage… If you lived through this severe weather event 25 years ago, it was certainly something you will never forget…

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