From its initial genesis near the Cape Verde Islands off the west coast of Africa to its ultimate demise over southeastern Canada, Hurricane Ike was a fascinating storm from a meteorological perspective. It maintained a tight low level circulation and remarkably low central pressure while being battered by harsh upper level winds, prolonged interaction with land, and continued ingestion of dry continental air that was persistently being drawn into its circulation from the North American mainland. While it had been forecast several days in advance to have some impact on the Twin Tiers, the ultimate impact was quite remarkable nonetheless.
The day prior to "Ike's" arrival was unusually warm and humid by mid September standards. Temperatures in most valley locations rose into the mid to upper 80s during the afternoon, and the warmth was accompanied by dewpoints that registered as high as the low 70s. Such conditions would normally be deemed "uncomfortable" even in the middle of summer, so to experience such weather roughly one week away from the autumnal equinox was especially tough to take for many. Perhaps the most unusual aspect of Sunday's weather, however, was the fact that it didn't cool off at night...in fact quite the opposite! While official observations from the Greater Binghamton Airport were unfortunately not available, unofficial observations from the Tri-Cities Airport in nearby Endicott revealed that temperatures actually rose from 79F at 7:12 PM to 82F at 1:42 AM....warmer than any overnight readings that had been observed all summer long! Temperatures then remained above the 80F mark until 2:22 AM following the passage of a cold front. That's when the story shifted to the wind....
Strong gusty winds quickly developed following the passage of Ike's cold front around 2:30 Monday morning. The winds were associated with what meteorologists refer to as an isallobaric couplet....or a rapid drop in atmospheric pressure followed by an equally rapid rise in pressure. While most areas experienced winds in the 30-40 mph range....localized gusts of 50 mph or higher occurred along west-facing hillsides across the area, and also in some west-east oriented valleys where localized channeling sometimes occurs. The highest wind gust was measured at an elevation of 1900 feet on Roseboom Hill in Cooperstown....57 mph! Other measured wind gusts include 52 mph on Carpathian Hill in Johnson City (WBNG studios) and even 50 mph at the Elmira-Corning Regional Airport. The winds were strong enough to knock out power to thousands of residents throughout the Twin Tiers, including nearly half the city of Elmira at one point. Quite a few branches and even some weak trees were blown down across the area as well. The strongest winds only lasted for an hour or less before conditions calmed down considerably during the predawn hours.
While certainly notable and mildy disruptive, the effects of Ike were far less severe in our neck of the woods than they were across portions of the Ohio River Valley and even in nearby western Pennsylvania. Beaver Falls, PA (near Pittsburgh) officially measured a wind gust to 81 mph following the passage of Ike's cold front, and a number of wind gusts in the 70-75 mph range were measured across Ohio and western Kentucky. Many residents of those three states are still cleaning up the damage and attempting to restore power at this time.