Tornado myth debunked: Tri-state at higher risk

Whether in the tri-state area, or all across the country, there have been tornadoes striking highly-populated areas, putting more people at risk.

Allan Nosoff

Mar 28, 2022, 12:54 PM

Updated 839 days ago


Despite the common concept that tornadoes avoid large cities, there has been an alarming trend in recent years to debunk that myth. Whether in the tri-state area, or all across the country, there have been tornadoes striking highly-populated areas, putting more people at risk.
On Tuesday, March 22, a severe EF-3 tornado caused significant damage to parts of New Orleans, Louisiana. At least one person died, at least two others were injured. These remarkably low numbers are a testament to how modern technology has alerted people, and provided better tornado shelters, to reduce deaths and injuries. But, many others were displaced because of the intense damage sustained from the twister.
While the massive, 320-yard-wide tornado missed downtown New Orleans by a mere two miles, it devastated multiple major neighborhoods, including Arabi, Algiers, and the Lower 9th Ward. Roofs were ripped off numerous homes, and several buildings were reduced to rubble.
Those two miles is the same distance as from the Empire State Building in Midtown Manhattan to the Lincoln Tunnel entrance in Weehawken, New Jersey. And given the fact that tornadoes’ paths are completely random and do not follow a particular path, it is a blessing that this particular tornado missed the heart of a major city.
There have been a growing list of examples close to home, including tornadoes that hit New York City directly. Most notably was the Aug. 8, 2007 tornado, a powerful EF-2 tornado that started in Staten Island, and caused significant damage across several Brooklyn neighborhoods including Bay Ridge and Borough Park.
Just three years later, on Sept. 16, 2010, another two tornadoes struck New York City, an EF-0 in Park Slope, Brooklyn, and an EF-1 in Flushing, Queens. One fatality was reported.
The frequency of tornadoes in the tri-state area continues to trend up in recent years, and 2021 was a perfect example of it. Tornado outbreaks as a whole are rare in the Northeast, but the tri-state saw two of them last year alone.
On July 29, there were 10 confirmed tornadoes in the Mid-Atlantic, including five in New Jersey. Two of them were rated EF-2, damaging areas including Barnegat along the Jersey Shore, and Hopewell Township in West-Central New Jersey.
More remarkable and record-shattering was the Nov. 13, 2021 tornado outbreak across Long Island. An EF-1 tornado caused considerable damage to numerous buildings, including a mall strip in Shirley, which News 12 was the first to the scene. A total of six tornadoes struck both Long Island counties, from cities like Woodmere to the west, to Hampton Bays to the east.
It is imperative that you are prepared when severe weather hits, before it hits. The News 12 Storm Watch Team will continue to keep you safe and informed! Our meteorologists have already tracked several severe weather days this year, and expect the tornado potential to grow into this summer.
As seen by the tragic New Orleans tornado this week, and multiple tornado outbreaks in the tri-state area in recent years, tornadoes can strike anywhere and anytime. We are also tracking a severe storm threat across the tri-state area on Thursday. Stay with the News 12 Storm Watch Team to keep you safe, keep you informed, and help keep you out of harm's way.

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