I Survived The

Wilton Tornado

Photos and Text by Lawrence White

Wilton, NY. On Friday evening, 5/15/20 it seemed we had finally turned winter's corner. The temps had slowly climbed during the week so the windows were open and the thought of a warmer Spring weekend did not seem to be too bad, even in COVID isolation.


I had been working on some new artwork in my home studio when I noticed the clouds had thickened and darkened and the wind was increasing. The weather channel radar showed a line of storms coming our way so I decided it would be wise to fold up the deck furniture and put the landscaping tools into the shed. 

As I walked back to the house I noticed that the rain had turned to hail so I darted through my studio glass door to safety, or so I thought. The door no sooner closed than all hell broke loose. The wind was not direct as it has been for every storm we have experienced here before. This was a swirling, brutal wind that was out for destruction and it soon became apparent that Wilton was the target of its wrath. In an instant, the entire area lost all power, and objects we were used to seeing on the ground were flying all over the place.

Last year we replaced a wood-framed bay window in my studio because of the poor condition it was in. If we had not done so I firmly believe the storm would have breached that barrier come right inside our home. Thankfully, that did not happen. 

This violent event lasted no more than three minutes from beginning to end, but the effects were awesome, in the traditional sense of that word. 

We found that seven trees had fallen onto our land from the neighbor's property and at least a dozen old growth white pines were down on our property as well. The most damaging of these was a tall maple that crashed into the back building on our property causing substantial damage. 

Parts of the neighborhood were in upheaval. This was particularly true of McGregor Road. Countless trees were uprooted and sprawled across the road with one massive hanging tree precariously tilting on the power lines over a small home. 

The EF1 tornado reached wind speeds of 85 to 90 miles per hour with a maximum path width of 50 yards. Fortunately, no injuries have been reported. 


Neighbors who have lived here for decades tell me that this is the first time they ever heard of anything like this in Wilton. In the 1990s two tornadoes touched down in Sweetwater and Half Moon and apparently one or two have briefly touched down in Spa Park but this was an entirely unique event.

An army of workers from National Grid, Spectrum, and the Town of Wilton filled the area for three days as repairs we completed. Our home had energy on Sunday and cable returned on Monday. 

In many ways, this community is very fortunate. The violent nature of this storm could easily have claimed life and limb but that did not happen and for that, we should all be very thankful.

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