In what is a rare weather event in New York City, a dangerous tornado came to life in the Breezy Point Surf Club on Saturday, sucking the water out of the pool and knocking over walls and tangling power lines and postponing the start of the US Open Tennis Tournament.
Ran For Safety
One eyewitness, Ms. Helen Vesik, 58 years old, was in her cabana at the Queens beach club when she noticed a white waterspout form over the ocean at about 11am on Saturday. Despite her fear she ran to the main clubhouse for safety, arriving there just as the tornado reached the club’s pool, where she saw streams of water rise up into the air. The tornado only lasted a few minutes while Ms. Vesik crouched on the bathroom floor, only getting up when all the wind died.
The damage to the beach club included a concrete wall which fell, barbecue grills and beach chairs lifted up and thrown over the grounds in all directions for hundreds of feet.
Outside the beach club roofs were lifted off of homes; power lines became tangled; there was severe flooding and other serious property damage. Despite the property damage, there were no reports of injuries.
Not So Strong
Accroding to Ross Dickman, a meteorologis for the National Weather Service, the 70 mile per hour winds attributed to the tornado as it hit land classifies it as weak, measuring only zero out of five on the Fujita scale, a measure of tornado strength. Dickman described the twister as 50 feet across, and it only traveled for about 600 feet before dispersing.
A second tornado arrived in Brooklyn about a half an hour later, at 11:30am on Saturday, and traveled about a half mile before it subsided.
The severe weather was expected to continue as night fell, sustained by a cold mass of air moving east to west, colliding with warm, wet air in front of the cold front, creating instability in the atmosphere.
More Bad Weather in Store for New York
Tornado warnings were announced throughout the day on Saturday in Queens, Westchester and Rockland Counties in New York; and Fairfield and New Haven Counties in Connecticut.
The high winds, thunderstorms, heavy rains and in some places even hail, caused a delay in the start of the United States Open, forcing the women’s singles final to be postponed until Sunday. The semifinal match between Novak Djokovic and David Ferrer was also postponed due to an approaching storm.