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Tue., Sep. 1
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Apparent tornado destroys houses in Lowville


LOWVILLE — Severe weather Tuesday evening spawned what witnesses described as a tornado that destroyed at least two homes and partially collapsed a barn holding some 50 cows, authorities said.

The damage north and west of Lowville came from a line of thunderstorms that spread across Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties and knocked out power to 10,000 National Grid customers.

Lewis County Fire Coordinator James M. Martin said a truck driver reported a “funnel cloud” heading northeast at about 7 p.m. near the Maple Ridge Wind Farm on Tug Hill. Two nearby houses were destroyed, close to the intersection of Eagle Factory and Gardner roads, he said. No one was reported hurt.

“It took a lot of trees down, broke a lot of telephone poles and took out a lot of wires in that whole strip where the tornado went down through it,” Mr. Martin said. “It’s going to take a while to sort everything out and get the power lines back up.”

The apparent tornado appeared headed toward Beaver Falls, he said. Close to the same time, a barn at 8013 Route 26, north of Lowville, partially collapsed. The property is owned by Daniel and Tonya O’Brien, whose son, Jacob, said they were in the milking barn when they felt the wind change. He said his father saw a tornado touch down. Mr. O’Brien was unavailable to comment when a reporter arrived.

The barn held about 50 cows, and at least one was killed. Part of the barn’s silo and roof blew off, although the structure as a whole remained standing, with pieces strewn about the property.

The house next to the barn and a house the O’Briens own up the road received damage to their windows, and a shed was blown apart.

Fire departments from Castorland and Lowville as well as state police responded, working to remove the animals from the barn.

Jonathan P. Hitchcock, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Buffalo, said that the thunderstorm pattern in Lowville suggested a likely tornado.

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

The weather service could not confirm that a tornado touched down, but might tour the area today to try to document it, Mr. Hitchcock said.

State police also reported that a roof was blown off a house and cars were overturned on Number 3 Road. The road was blocked off as of 9:30 p.m. Also closed were Route 12, Rice Road and Route 177 up to Eagle Factory Road.

It could take up to three days for National Grid to restore power, Mr. Martin said. Emergency assistance from the Red Cross was to be made available. Fire departments from Lowville, New Bremen, Martinsburg, Beaver Falls and Copenhagen all responded to damage reports Tuesday, Mr. Martin said.

Severe thunderstorm warnings had been issued for the north country, and the weather service received several calls Tuesday night from residents who reported damage in Adams, Mannsville, Watertown and Antwerp, he said.

“There was a lot of wind damage from the storm that moved through,” Mr. Hitchcock 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 ranged from 50 to 75 mph in Jefferson and Lewis counties, he said. One 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.

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