Saturday, February 21, 2015

Crespo to Homeland Security: Where is the Tornado Warning System Report Due Last Year?

As per 2013 Law authored by Assemblyman Crespo, NYS Office of Homeland Security had to prepare report on a State Tornado Warning System

  Assemblyman Marcos A. Crespo, member of the Assembly Standing Committee on Environmental Conservation and Chair of the Assembly Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force, called on the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services to provide the tornado warning system study required by a 2013 law he authored.  The report was due in March of last year and has not been completed as per State law (Chapter 379 of the Laws of 2013). Calls dating as far back to July of 2014 requesting the report have not yielded answers from the Division.

In the spring of 2013, the legislature passed and the Governor signed into law legislation requiring a study on the need for a tornado warning system for the State after Assemblyman Crespo released a report documenting a 600% increase in tornado activity in New York.

According to Crespo, “We have lost valuable time in implementing a redundant tornado warning system in a state without a warning system at all.  And redundant because relying exclusively on cellular phones to issue warnings would be foolish knowing storms can and have damaged cell phone towers.  New York must follow the example of other states that have put in place redundant tornado warning systems.”

“Last May alone, four residents of Madison County were killed in their home when a tornado struck.  Severe weather and high winds caused the cancellation of many outdoor events across the state last spring and summer.”

Crespo added, “In 2013, I documented the rising rates of tornadoes in New York State and highlighted the fact that our communities, households and individuals are ill prepared for such weather. As a state, we are even less prepared to issue the warnings communities need when a tornado is imminent. It was my hope that New York State would quickly move to deploy a system that will no doubt save lives.”

“The beginning of tornado season is a few weeks away. The deadly danger to all New Yorkers should be taken seriously.” Crespo added, “We need to know if the State’s Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services has completed the required report and what their recommendations are for dealing with this very real threat to all New Yorkers.”

Crespo’s report reviewed 62 years of tornado activity in New York State and documented dramatic increases in the rate of tornado activity. According to Crespo, “Report data shows 69% of the 407 tornadoes that have impacted New York occurring since 1986, increasing in frequency over the past decade. Tornadoes now pose a tremendous risk to all of New York’s more than 19 million residents,” declared Crespo.

“What this report documents is an almost 600% increase in tornadoes impacting New York since 1970, when the prior 20 years only saw 47 tornadoes. Officially, 278 tornadoes have hit New York since 1986 and have injured hundreds of our residents and caused tens of millions of dollars in property damage.”

Over the past 15 years, 146 tornados have hit our State accounting for 35% of the 407 tornadoes impacting New York since 1950.  No area of New York has been spared with tornadoes as strong as an EF3 impacting the state on three occasions since 1997.

New York City has also seen a 300% increase in tornado activity with 9 tornadoes hitting four of its five counties since 2003 with winds as high as 110 mph.  In the previous 18 years, only three tornadoes had impacted New York City and prior to 1985 none had ever been recorded,” stated Crespo.

“With stronger storms on the horizon, State action was and is diligently needed.” Crespo added. The report, titled Tornadoes Rising: The Increasing Rate of Tornadoes in New York State, An Overview of their Frequency and Destruction, is available on the New York State Assembly website at

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