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Lewis County flooding, possible tornado touch down in Capital Region highlight day of severe weather


Heavy flooding in southern Lewis County and a possible tornado touching down near Albany marked a day of severe weather across the state.

A warm front slowly lifting across the north country is largely to blame for severe thunderstorms and rainfalls that topped 5 to 7 inches in spots Thursday, meteorologist David Thomas at the National Weather Service in Buffalo said. Hail, some three-quarters of an inch or larger, fell in Port Leyden, Constableville, Turin and surrounding areas.

The rising warm front remained in Lewis County, leading to a steady succession of storms over the afternoon. “It was storm after storm after storm,” Mr. Thomas said.

The front was expected to stick around until midnight Thursday, bringing additional showers and thunderstorms. A flash flood warning was in effect for southern Lewis County until 8:15 p.m.

Perhaps hardest hit was Port Leyden, where multiple roads were washed out and some residents forced to evacuate.

In the village, Leyden Road and Locust Grove Road were closed.

“They were washed right out,” Lewis County Emergency Services Director James M. Martin said.

Outside of the village, Murphy, Wildcat, Moose River and River roads were among others that were washed out and closed Thursday night.

The roads were expected to reopen by today, Mr. Martin said. Murphy Road could remain closed until Saturday, however, he said.

North Street, which runs through the village of Port Leyden, was completely washed out and dislodged the sewer system and water line that runs under the road, forcing 22 people to evacuate. Mr. Martin said it could be “a couple of days” before the road will be reopened. He expected the closure to affect about 30 people.

An elderly woman evacuated from her residence on Quarry Street brought the total to 23 evacuees, who were taken to the Port Leyden fire hall, which doubled as an emergency shelter Thursday night.

Water filled Quarry Street and a basement wall collapsed at one residence on the street.

A boil-water advisory remains in place for the village of Port Leyden because of the water line break, Mr. Martin said.

In Schenectady County, investigators are still determining whether storm damage in the county was caused by a tornado or straight-line winds.

The weather service reports that trees and power lines were knocked down, several homes were damaged and a barn collapsed as strong storms moved through rural Schenectady and Albany counties between 3:30 and 4:30 p.m. Thursday. A tornado warning was in effect at the time, based on radar images.

As of 10:15 p.m. Thursday, more than 4,800 National Grid customers were without power, according to the company’s power outage map.

Meteorologist John Quinlan at the National Weather Service in Albany said investigators will survey damage in the Schenectady County town of Delanson today to determine whether it was caused by a tornado.

Elsewhere, boats were banned on Keuka Lake in the Finger Lakes by the Yates County Sheriff’s Office and boating speed limits of no more than 5 mph were placed on parts of Seneca, Canandiagua and Honeoye lakes because of high water and floating debris.

A state of emergency was declared last week in Yates County in the Finger Lakes region after flash flooding caused by heavy rains forced evacuations and closed roads.

The measures will be in place until the water level recedes.

The restrictions and ban are a result of heavy rains last week that led to severe flooding.

Officials in Ontario County are advising boaters on Canandaigua and Honeoye lakes to steer well away from shore because many docks remain submerged.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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