SEPTEMBER 7, 1998 DERECHOS
"The Labor Day Derechos of 1998"


Figure 1. Area affected by the two September 7, 1998 derechos (outlined in green and red). Curved purple lines represent the approximate locations of the gust fronts at two hourly intervals. "+" symbols indicate the locations of wind damage or wind gusts (measured or estimated) above severe limits (58 mph or greater). Red dots and paths denote tornado touchdowns and paths.



"Syracuse Derecho of Labor Day 1998"

Just before midnight on Sunday evening September 6, 1998, a derecho formed over western New York and moved rapidly east during the early morning of Labor Day (September 7th), reaching the New England coast by 6 a.m. EDT. Wind damage occurred in much of the area outlined in green in Figure 1. Some of the worst storm damage occurred in a band across western and central New York, from Rochester to Syracuse and near Utica. The derecho storm system reached the Syracuse area ("S" in Figure 1) just after 1 a.m. EDT. Three people were killed and 10 were injured in Syracuse, mostly at the New York State Fairgrounds. Measured wind gusts of 89 mph at the Rochester Airport and 77 mph at the Syracuse airport were recorded. Winds were estimated to have reached 115 mph in the most seriously-damaged areas. Along the derecho path, tens of thousands of trees were blown down and over 1000 homes and businesses were damaged. Damage was estimated at about 130 million dollars. Hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses lost power, with some remaining without power for a week.

A radar reflectivity image and animated radar loops for the Syracuse Labor Day Derecho were provided by National Weather Service (NWS) meteorologist Jeff Waldstreicher. The thunderstorm system that produced the derecho began as a supercell. The supercell subsequently evolved into a bow echo as shown this animation of reflectivity from the Buffalo, New York NWS radar. The bow echo storm system then moved across central New York and the Syracuse area (SYR), growing in scale as shown in this loop from the Binghamton, New York NWS radar.

Damage photos from the event may be found on the Buffalo and Binghamton NWS web sites. Additional information on the Syracuse Derecho is available on the Binghamton site.



"New York City Derecho of Labor Day 1998"

As the "Syracuse Labor Day Derecho" moved into New England, a new derecho storm system began to form over southeast Lower Michigan around 4 a.m. EDT Labor Day morning. This event, known as the "New York City Derecho of Labor Day 1998" (outlined in red in Figure 1) raced east across northeast Ohio and Pennsylvania during the morning and early afternoon, reaching the New York City metropolitan area ("N" in Figure 1) by mid afternoon. Most of the casualties occurred from extreme eastern Pennsylvania through northern New Jersey into the New York City metropolitan area, where 4 people were killed and 62 were injured. Almost all of the deaths and injuries were the result of people being hit by falling trees or being in boats that were overturned. Thousands of trees were blown down and about 100 boats were overturned. At least 130 homes and businesses were damaged. Over 300,000 customers lost power, and some did not get power restored until 5 days after the event.

In summary, the two Labor Day 1998 derechos battered a large part of the northeastern United States on a busy holiday weekend, leaving seven dead and nearly 80 injured. Power disruptions affected hundreds of thousands.


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References: Waldstreicher 1998; Storm Data for September 1998


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