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Tornado struck Montgomery, Schenectady and Schoharie counties

May 30, 2013
Updated 5:42 p.m.
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Ominous storm clouds dominate the skyline over City Hall in Schenectady Wednesday.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber
Ominous storm clouds dominate the skyline over City Hall in Schenectady Wednesday.

— Winds from an EF-2 tornado leveled an indoor equestrian ring and flung siding from a barn more than a mile away.

Additional Coverage

Story from Wednesday night: "Storm wreaks havoc across area."

Amateur video on the Capital Region Scene blog

Funnel cloud seen: "It came right through here, about 20-30 feet off the ground,” says witness.

Video of damage in Rotterdam.

Photo gallery of damage to Bellevue neighborhood

Six Shenendehowa schools opened without power today.

Schenectady and Rotterdam hit hard by Wednesday storms.

Wind and tornado damage should be covered by a standard homeowner's policy.

The twister Wednesday evening snapped thick tree trunks like twigs and plucked massive 100-foot-tall steel power-line stanchions from the ground like lawn ornaments. Thousands remained without power today, following a storm that carved a 17-mile-long path of destruction from the town of Florida in Montgomery County to an area just before the Thruway in Rotterdam.

The tornado’s winds topped estimated speeds of 125 mph and was roughly one mile wide, according to the National Weather Service in Albany. The storm caused widespread power outages throughout the affected area, including about 6,000 National Grid customers in Schenectady County that remained without service late this afternoon.

At least one man was hospitalized after being swept up by the winds. Brian Pedersen, the owner of a horse farm in the Duanesburg hamlet of Mariaville, was plucked from his barn and flung more than 20 feet as the storm wrecked havoc on his property.

“It picked him up,” recalled Kacey Bradt, who was helping Pedersen when the tornado struck. “He was probably six feet off the ground and out the door.”

Pedersen remained at Ellis Hospital with what Bradt described as serious cuts from the storm. He said Pedersen remains in a lot of pain, but is coherent and is expected to be released later this week.

A group of meteorologists from the weather service toured the path of the storm during the late morning and determined it to be an EF 2 tornado, a medium strength twister. Meteorologist Steve DiRienzo said the assessment was made after reviewing the damage coupled with what was recorded by radar Wednesday evening.

“It was everything,” he said.

The storm was also categorized as a tornado in parts of Schoharie County.

A tornado with a maximum wind speed of 100 miles per hour struck the Summit and East Jeffererson areas a little after 7 p.m. on Wednesday, according to a public information statement from the National Weather Service released this afternoon.

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