Severe Weather Slams WNY: Tornado Confirmed

July 20, 2017 - 2:22 pm

Hamburg, N.Y. (WBEN) - A line of severe weather crossed the Buffalo metro area at lunchtime Thursday as a Tornado warning and severe thunderstorm warning were both in place.  The hardest hit area from the extreme winds was the Hamburg Fairgrounds area of the Town of Hamburg where structural and vehicle damage is extensive. Late Thursday, a tornado was confirmed. 

Eyewitnesses tell WBEN they heard what sounded like a "freight train" sound at the time and many tell us they saw a funnel cloud. National Weather Service meteorologist Dave Thomas confirms the tornado touched down Thursday afternoon. "The tornado touched down near Hamburg and toward the Holland area," says Thomas. There's no word yet on the speed of the tornado. This was the first tornado to touch down since 2006, when a twister hit Cheektowaga. 

A statement from Hamburg Gaming's Steve Martin says:  Our immediate concern was with our patrons and employees of Hamburg Gaming, and we are thankful to report that we are not aware of any serious injuries. After the tornado hit, we discovered that a gas line on the roof was severed, prompting us to shut down the main power and evacuate our patrons and employees. About 150 people took shelter in the Grange Building on the fairgrounds. We are assisting with transportation home for some of our patrons and employees based on the estimate that 80 percent of the vehicles in our parking lot had window damage caused by the change in air pressure. Hamburg Gaming will remain closed today, and we will continue to monitor the situation with Town of Hamburg officials and police, as well as the Erie County Agricultural Society. Our goal is to take the steps needed to reopen at 8 a.m. Friday."

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz advised no unnecessary travel after the storm moved through towns south of Buffalo Thursday afternoon. He said he was grateful there was no loss of life.

National Grid reported about 400 customers without power in the Buffalo area and NYSEG reported more than 13,000 out at the storm's peak.






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