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Storm labeled an EF3 twister

Winds hit top speed of 140 mph along 7-mile path

Friday, May 23, 2014
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Margaret Krylowicz's house on Friday morning, after Thursday's tornado ripped through Delanson and Duanesburg.
Photographer: Ned Campbell
Margaret Krylowicz's house on Friday morning, after Thursday's tornado ripped through Delanson and Duanesburg.

At a glance

A quick look at Thursday’s tornado:

Rating: EF3

Maximum wind speed: 140 mph

Width: Quarter-mile

Path length: 7 miles

Start time: 3:33 p.m.

End time: 3:55 p.m.

Start location: Near the intersection of Route 30 and Duanesburg Churches Road, town of Duanesburg

End location: Just southeast of the intersection of Crow Hill and Bozenkill roads, town of Knox

Source: National Weather Service

— When Peggy Krylowicz learned that her house had been torn apart by a swirling wind Thursday, she thought about her 4-year-old German Shepard, Lexy, and her 11-year-old dachshund, Missy.

The tornado sent chunks of her house, a John Deere riding mower, a gas grill and tank and a snowblower flying into the woods across the street, but the dogs survived. Missy was found among the debris by state troopers, and Lexy was found by a neighbor outside a house two doors down the road.

“I said, ‘I don’t care about my house. I want my dogs,’ ” Krylowicz, 69, recalled Friday, surrounded by the debris on Route 20 that had been her home since 1990.

Her hands were still shaking from the previous day’s events.

“I think I went in a state of shock,” she said. “I’ve been shaking ever since.”

The National Weather Service classified the winds as an EF3 tornado on Friday. Measuring a quarter-mile wide, the tornado touched down at 3:33 p.m. near Route 30 and Duanesburg Churches Road. It barreled southeast for about 7 miles, until just past the intersection of Crow Hill and Bozenkill roads in the town of Knox, leaving a trail of downed trees and power lines in its path.

Roofs were lifted off houses and barns, windows were broken and falling trees pierced walls, but officials said Krylowicz’ property was hit hardest.

“This is definitely the worst I’ve seen,” National Weather Service meteorologist Steve DiRienzo said as he and fellow meteorologist Vasil Koleci spent Friday surveying the damage with Schenectady County emergency management officials.

Earlier in the day, the crew stopped at a house near the intersection of Knight and Hardin roads to assess the damage there.

“I am so glad you guys are here,” said Todd Hart, whose house looked in decent shape considering it had been under about 10 trees the day before. Hart and his wife, Carolyn, were at a doctor’s appointment in Slingerlands when the tornado came through, but their 20-year-old son was home. He safely took shelter in the basement.

“We raced in wall-to-wall traffic trying to get here,” Todd Hart said.

Hart brought the meteorologists to the front yard to show them a stick that the wind had jammed into the ground. Looking at the battered woods that surrounded his house, he marveled at Mother Nature’s ability to uproot an entire tree.

Winds reached an estimated 140 mph Thursday, according the National Weather Service.

“The trees become like sails when the wind’s that strong and the ground’s wet,” DiRienzo explained to Hart.

“Nobody got hurt, though, right?” Hart then asked.

“No,” DiRienzo said. “That’s all I cared about. All this can get fixed.”

This was the 39th tornado to hit the seven-county region since 1959, and the 39th with no fatalities, according to the Tornado History Project.

Luckily, Krylowicz wasn’t home when the tornado came through, either. She was picking up her daughter-in-law and grandson in Sharon Springs. Now, she’s staying with her son, Jeff Givins, at his house in Esperance.

Her house, built in 1973, was improved over the past two years with a new roof, siding, floors, kitchen appliances, even a new bed, said her son. As an insurance adjuster inspected the property Friday, volunteers tried to recover what they could from the debris.

Across the road, Charlie Stanton, 74, waded through the pink insulation that hung from trees, hoping to find anything of value — “pictures, important papers, something,” he said.

Stanton, a lifelong resident of Esperance, said he has known Krylowicz for “50, 60 years” but over the past decade or so he “lost track of her.”

That changed when he heard she had lost her home.

By 11:45 Friday morning, Stanton had spent an hour-and-a-half searching the woods — with no luck — but he wasn’t about to stop.

“You never know what you’re going to find or where you’re going to find it,” he said.

 
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