BUFFALO, NY – A video captured by the security cameras attached to a Hamburg man’s home, showing his SUV being lifted and turned during a storm on Thursday, not only went “viral”, but turned out to be vital — in helping scientists confirm that a rare tornado had indeed struck in Western New York.
“Not only is the wind twisting, but it's also being forced to the ground and then being forced back up, which lifted the vehicle," noted Storm Team 2 Meteorologist Patrick Hammer after viewing the video, which shows the nearly two-ton automobile rising several inches off the ground and spinning a quarter of a complete turn.
“So you have about four different force directions, that is actually taking the two ton vehicle and putting it in the sky," Hammer said.
One force directional wind — such as a micro burst or a straight line gust — might have pushed that vehicle in one direction, but would not have lifted it up and spun it, according to Hammer.
“The video of the vehicle indicates the wind didn't come from one direction, it was a swirling wind with a suction, if you will, that actually takes the vehicle, lifts it up, and then twists it around," he said.
Not only was the video key in determining that a tornado had struck, but it also helped determine that it was an EF2, with winds of between 110 and 135 miles per hour.
Scientists know, too, what a tornado of larger magnitude likely might have done to the vehicle.
“EF4s and EF5s can take vehicles and actually launch them, dropping them off yards and yards away,” Hammer said.
Click on the video player to watch our story from 2 on Your Side Reporter Dave McKinley and Photojournalist Nathan Krug.