On May 2, 1983, an F3 tornado tore through the village of Boonville. It created a three mile path of chaos, that was occasionally over 400 yards wide. The storm caused significant damage in Boonville, with approximately $25 million total damage. While there were no fatalities or serious irreplaceable problems from this particular storm, it raises awareness that while we are not the Midwest, damaging tornadoes can still occur here. We hope this will encourage awareness and preparation for severe weather here in CNY, because storms like this will probably strike us again one day.
An anonymous eyewitness provided the following account of the storm to Priscilla Bridenstine of the National Weather Service office in Binghamton:
"Many Boonvillians remember quite well the Tornado that swept through the village that night in May. I recall trying to look out the window and seeing nothing but black of flying debris just before the power went out. My mother hurried us all into the cellar of our home on Charles Street. The people of Boonville definitely remember that night and weeks of work it took to clear the streets, some people still have the T-shirts sold to raise money for the people effected. We lost hundreds of trees in Erwin Park changing the face of the Park forever."
A book entitled "Significant Tornadoes" by Thomas Grazulis (which is considered the Bible of tornado history) had the following information regarding this storm:
"This tornado damaged or destroyed 200 homes and businesses in Boonville. Only the toilet bowl was left standing at the police station. One man was blown out of his living room. A furniture factory was unroofed."
The same weather system spawned another tornado in Onondaga County in the Town of Clay, which has the following written in their Severe Storm Hazard Profile:
"A tornado on May 2, 1983 collapsed homes and trees along
and destroyed businesses in Clay and Wicks Lumber in Schroeppel."
Thank you again to Priscilla of the NWS Binghamton for providing us with much of this information.
CLICK HERE FOR RAW VIDEO: NEWSChannel 2 has archived about 9 minutes of raw footage of the damage caused by the Boonville tornado. We've taken it from a 1983 tape to the online world for you to check out.
Check the photo gallery below. Photos are courtesy of Priscilla Bridenstine of the National Weather Service in Binghamton. The upper left is of an actual tornado from Chautauqua County in Western New York on that day. The other photos are aerial shots of the Boonville damage.
For those that may be more weather savvy, here is a link the Penn State University Reanalysis archive of the weather maps from that day in 1983. Please share your memories on the You News site!