Downdraft causes damage to Clarence neighborhood

CLARENCE, NY - A weather phenomenon known to meteorologists as a "downdraft" impacted a Clarence neighborhood late Saturday afternoon, causing some damage and frightening residents.

Bill Hibbert, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Buffalo, told us the downdraft formed at the tail end of some very heavy rainfall that moved through the area Saturday, causing winds of about 50 MPH, based on radar readings.

Storm Team 2 Meteorologist Josh Kozlowski says: "Sometimes this phenomena occurs without thunder, lightning, nor any other meteorological indication otherwise. What happened here is super cooled air descending in the downdraft of the rain cloud hits an area of dry air beneath the cloud. The air within the downdraft carrying the rain down with it cools due to evaporation once the rain hits the dry air and causes it to descend even faster hence the strong gust of wind capable of this type of damage."

Two On Your Side's Scott Levin sent us these pictures of wind damage from the area of Lapp and Heise roads in Clarence. You can see that shed in the distance was blown from its moorings, shown in the foreground.

The highly concentrated storm kicked up north of Harris Hill Road at about 5:15 p.m., blew across Clarence Center Road to the area of Lapp and Heise, where it reached its greatest strength, before dissipating in the Rapids area by about 5:35 p.m.

Residents who thought they saw a funnel cloud were probably actually looking at a phenomenon called "scud," Hibbert said. That's when clouds are shredded by the force of the downdraft. He said they may appear circular like a tornado but they are actually just the remnants of clouds torn up by the wind.


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