GENESEO — Cleanup efforts continued Friday, and a National Weather Service survey team was investigating the aftermath of an intense storm that roared through the area the previous evening.
The National Weather Service determined in a preliminary assessment that the storm was not a tornado that moved through an area including Geneseo, Lakeville, Conesus Lake and Livonia. But the strong winds – estimated at 100mph by the weather service – downpours and hail toppled trees and left thousands without power regardless.
“It got really dark all of a sudden and the rain came down, and it was sideways,” said Sandy Sanderson of Lima Road, whose small garden was almost completely covered in fallen branches and a large trunk. of a tree that had split.
It was a similar look across the whole street in the village which was closed after a large maple tree fell across the road. Piles of branches lined the street hours after the storm passed as crews from the village worked to make the street passable.
Jeanie Smith’s house was obscured by several large branches that had fallen into her driveway and onto the roof of her house. She was inside the house at the time and said she felt the structure shake, but the tree does not appear to have entered the house.
The storm covered a distance of 8 miles, with a maximum width of 400 meters wide. Maximum wind gusts were estimated at 100 mph, according to a preliminary report from the weather service.
A Geneseo man escaped serious injury while traveling in his car on Lima Road. The car was engulfed in fallen branches, including a large branch that penetrated the passenger side windshield and extended behind the driver’s seat.
“It was like a missile had hit the car,” Geneseo Fire Chief Andrew Chanler said.
The man was taken to hospital to be checked. The injuries were not life-threatening, Chanler said.
The fire chief said while responding to one of the first calls for help – a tree that fell on a car on Center Street – he was amazed to see people driving on the sidewalks to get around downed wires and pedestrians walking over and under downed wires. He said these wires potentially pose a significant hazard and should always be treated as live.
Geneseo Central School was closed Friday morning due to a power outage as crews worked to restore power to more than 800 RG&E and National Grid customers, most in Geneseo and Livonia Friday morning. The remaining Geneseo students instead took their Regents exams at Livonia Central School. Livonia Central School was outside the areas affected by the power outage, according to the National Grid outage map.
Power had been almost fully restored by Friday evening.
The storm came quickly, with the first reports of power lines in Leicester arriving at the Livingston County 911 center at 4:07 p.m. Six minutes later, the first report of a tree falling on a vehicle in the village of Geneseo, according to the sheriff’s office.
While wind and rain were prevalent in Geneseo, the heaviest damage occurred in an area Chanler described as the Upper Village, which included Upper Court Street, Lima Road, the Temple Hill area, and the road 20A leaving the village towards Livonia.
During an interview at the fire station, which is near the intersection of Center Street and Route 20A, the chief noted how unusual it was to see 20A – a busy road with restaurants, a gas station and two red lights – quiet and dark.
The Weather Service said large-scale wind damage began just east of the SUNY Geneseo campus and continued to intensify across Temple Hill Cemetery. During the initial wind damage path of the storm, several hardwood and softwood trees were uprooted or significantly damaged.
As the storm continued eastward, roughly following Highway 20A, a silo was completely destroyed at a dairy farm and continued uprooting of hard, resinous trees and trunk shearing was observed, it said. the meteorological service.
Damage then continued east across Lake Conesus, with extensive damage to hardwood and softwood trees on the east side of the lake, including the overturning of pontoon boats on the lake, the weather service said.
“This is the only section of storm wind damage that showed anything other than purely linear damage,” the weather service said in a news release Friday afternoon. “However, the storm survey team determined that this was likely due to shoreline topography and surface roughness, changes that would affect wind flow rather than any tornado evidence.”
The storm continued east to cause more damage to trees in Livonia and minor damage to the roof of a school.
Richard J. McCollough, former meteorologist for WHEC-TV, Channel 10 in Rochester, and chief meteorologist for WDKX radio in Rochester, experienced the storm from his home in Conesus.
“We had high winds, heavy showers and lightning,” he said in an email interview with The Daily News. “But, not the strength like up the road in Livonia and Geneseo.”
He included an image from his Weatherfield Farm Doppler radar in his email.
“Red indicates the target of the most intense part of the cell and if you look closely, purple indicates hail,” McCollough wrote. “I haven’t done a site survey, but I suspect the damage was in a line, as opposed to a spiral, radiating the debris in a circle. Another thing that indicates straight line winds is that the echo classic hook was not detected by Doppler radar.
The damage occurred as a series of severe thunderstorms rolled through Genesee, Orleans, Wyoming and Livingston counties. The area had been under tornado watch due to forecasted severe weather.
Reports soon emerged of downed trees and wires in Livingston and Orleans counties, with Livingston suffering the worst damage. At its peak, more than 4,200 customers were without power in the GLOW area — most in Livingston County — with the number down to around 800 as of Friday morning.
Lima Road was one of the hardest hit areas in Geneseo. Nearby Temple Hill Cemetery suffered extensive tree damage, as countless trees had their branches ripped out and a number of trees, including a pine estimated to be 70ft tall, uprooted. The smell of freshly cut pine lingered in parts of the cemetery Thursday night due to the number of evergreens affected.
Footage from Livonia and Conesus showed uprooted trees, downed wires and damaged homes, including a garage that was badly damaged after a tree fell on its roof.
The Livonia Fire Department reported via Facebook that it responded to 30 calls for service between 4:45 p.m. and 9 p.m. on June 16. Calls included a possible structure fire, ongoing CPR, trees and wires on vehicles, homes and in roadways.
The department thanked “members of the community for being patient with us as we handled these calls. Most importantly, thank you to our members who helped out during those seemingly endless hours on the site.
Dave Zaff, science operations manager for the Buffalo National Weather Service, said a survey team was at Geneseo Friday morning. The team was to visit the village, Livonia and several other places.
“It will either be a tornado or what we call straight-line winds. It’s important enough that we investigate the damage,” Zaff said.
The NWS says when most people think of the winds associated with a thunderstorm, they think of tornadoes.
But in most years there are far more reports of damage from straight line winds of thunderstorms than from tornadoes. Straight-line winds are storm winds that do not have rotation, i.e. not a tornado.
Downbursts are a common cause of wind damage during a thunderstorm. They can reach over 100 mph and are caused by air driven by precipitation.
When the air reaches the ground, it spreads outward across the surface of the ground which it encounters in a straight line.
Since January 1950, there have been nine confirmed tornadoes in Genesee, Livingston, Orleans or Wyoming counties.
Writer Brian Quinn also contributed to this report.