Caroline Muray/Recorder staff Fort Johnson resident Brian Smith looks over some of the damage Thursday's storm caused in front of his house on Antlers Road.
Giant hail, high winds, torrential rain surprise many
By CAROLINE MURRAY
Residents of eastern Mont-gomery and southern Fulton counties were introduced to yet another chapter in Mother Nature's playbook Thursday afternoon when hail -- the largest many in this area can ever remember seeing -- fell from the sky.
Today, meteorologists from the National Weather Service in Albany are investigating the storm's aftermath to determine if we -- along with Schenectady and Albany counties -- were hit by a tornado.
Meteorologist Kevin Lipton said this morning that includes the city of Amsterdam, which experienced massive hail, severe winds and a torrential downpour shortly after 3 p.m. Thursday.
Lipton said two or three investigators were expected out early this morning observing the damage. Based on wind patterns and damage, the investigators will be able to determine whether it was a tornado or just strong winds.
"If it is straight-line wind damage, all the damage should kind of be aligned in one direction; all the trees toppled over in one direction," Lipton said. "Where as, if it were a tornado, it would be in a different kind of direction. You would see a pattern of swirling and trees would be tossed in a way. You could see a rotation of wind, which would indicate a tornado."
He estimated the meteorologists would reach a conclusion by late this afternoon.
The crew will not only determine if the storm was a tornado, but also how strong the winds were.
"They definitely have their work cut out for them," he said.
Meteorologist Tom Wsula said between the hours of 3 and 3:30 p.m., Perth, Broadalbin and Amsterdam experienced hailstones between 2 to 4 inches in diameter.
Wsula said Amsterdam was hit the hardest, with hail ranging in size from a hen's egg to almost as large as a softball.
"It is extremely rare," Wsula said.
Amsterdam Police Department Deputy Chief Victor Hugo said he was at the department when the storm blew through.
Hugo said he had not read through all the reports yet, but did not believe the storm did any major damage in the city.
Hugo said some minor car and house damage occurred, but nothing severe.
"No major reports of trees down or injuries," he said.
Contractor Scott Horton of Correll Contracting Corp. in Gloversville said hail like the area experienced Thursday can be devastating to a homeowner's roof.
He said residents can detect such damage by finding pieces of shingles laying on the ground around their homes.
If that is the case, Horton said they should call a roofing company immediately to get an assessment of the damage and then call their insurance company.
"I am not an insurance agent, but yes, generally insurance policies cover not only damage to roof but interior damage," Horton said.
He said if residents neglect to report the damage in a timely fashion, the insurance agency will not cover the cost to fix it.
He said after the storm moved through Gloversville, he had six calls reporting damage.
"We did have a huge influx of calls today," Horton said. "On average we have a couple a day so six calls is an awful lot in a day."