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Barn with 50 cows collapses in Lowville; residents report seeing tornado

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LOWVILLE — A barn with about 50 cows in it has partially collapsed from what the property owners describe as a tornado that touched down this evening. Part of the barn’s silo and roof have blown off, but the rest of the structure appeared to be standing about 8 p.m.

Multiple trees are down and pieces of the barn are strewn about.

One dead cow was removed from the barn about 8:30 p.m.

The property, 8013 Route 26, is owned by Daniel and Tonya O’Brien, whose son, Jacob, said they were sitting by the milking barn when they felt the wind change and saw a tornado touch down.

“It came down over the hill behind the house,” he said.

The house next to the barn did not initially appear to be badly damaged, but the house the O’Briens own up the road sustained damage to its windows.

Fire departments from Castorland and Lowville as well as Lewis County sheriff’s deputies are on the scene.

A severe thunderstorm warning had been issued for western Jefferson County until 7 p.m., and for eastern Jefferson County and Lewis County until 7:30 p.m.

Jonathan P. Hitchcock, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service of Buffalo, said that the thunderstorm pattern in Lowville suggested that a tornado likely could have developed at about 7:45 p.m. when the incident off Route 26 occurred.

“It’s definitely possible,” he said. “There was very briefly, just for a few minutes, very good rotation that hit about that spot.”

The agency has not yet confirmed the tornado, but will contact Lewis County officials to learn more about the incident, Mr. Hitchcock said. He said the agency may decide to visit the site Tuesday to assess the damage and confirm whether a tornado touched down.

The agency received several calls Tuesday night from residents who reported damage from the storm in Jefferson and Lewis counties, Mr. Hitchcock said. Damage was reported in Mannsville, Adams, Watertown and Antwerp, and the storm likely impacted towns throughout Lewis County, he said.

“There was a lot of wind damage from the storm that moved through,” he said. “It produced fairly widespread damage, starting in western New York and reaching the north country in the early evening.”

Based on radar estimates, winds from the storm ranged from 50 to 75 mph in Jefferson and Lewis counties, Mr. Hitchcock said. The peak wind gust was measured at 66 mph at Fort Drum.

As of 10 p.m., nearly 3,000 customers were without power in Jefferson County, nearly 3,800 customers in Lewis County and about 3,200 in St. Lawrence County, according to National Grid. More than 10,000 were without power in Oswego County.

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