That rumbling you heard Tuesday afternoon wasn TMt your stomach " it was the sound of thunder as a quick-moving storm hit Central New York.
A fast-moving storm packing wind gusts as high as 60 miles per hour swept through Syracuse, pelting the area with torrents of rain and quarter-size hail and forcing closure of Interstate 81 just north of downtown.
Nearly an inch of rain fell in less than a half hour in late afternoon Tuesday, forcing police to close the highway with 2-3 feet of standing water making the pavement impassable.
Forecasters said another band of storms was expected to move through Syracuse by 8:00 p.m. The city has received more than six inches of rain in April.
The National Weather Service reports that a tornado warning is in effect for central Oneida County and Madison County. At 4:25 p.m., the NWS says trained weather spotters reported the sighting of a tornado near Rome, moving northeast at 40 miles per hour. In addition to a tornado, the NWS says this storm could produce golf ball-sized hail and destructive straight line winds.
Around 3:30 Tuesday afternoon a major thunderstorm blew through the Central New York area, bringing with it heavy rains, lightning, and dime or penny-sized hail. We could hear the pings of the hailstones on our windows here on James Street in Syracuse as the storm reached its peak shortly before 4:00.
NYSEG reports hundreds of customers are without power, including 904 in Onondaga County, 138 in Hamilton County, 21 in Madison County, and 5 in Tompkins County.
"I couldn't believe the hail that was coming down, it looked like golf ball sized hail. I was like 'wow'. I thought the windows were going to break, it was hitting the windows so hard" said Michael Elderbroom of Syracuse.
In addition to the tornado warning, the National Weather Service has issued severe thunderstorm warnings and flash flood warnings for much of the area for this evening.
"It's like a river. All of the cars are getting stuck and it's just really bad" said Melissa Lee of Syracuse.
We are receiving reports of localized flooding around CNY, specifically in Onondaga County. We have heard reports of flooding on James Street and Shop City in Eastwood, the Green Hills Market, and other side streets in and around Syracuse.
As mentioned above, I-81 north and southbound at Butternut Street was blocked for approximately two hours, beginning around 3:50, due to flooding. The interstate has since reopened and traffic is now moving in both directions.
The DOT says Route 89 north of Route 5 and 20 in the Town of Tyre (Seneca County) is closed in both directions due to flood damage. Also, Route 174 is closed from Coon Hil Road to Otisco Valley Road in the Town of Marcellus (Onondaga County) in both directions.
Syracuse University issued an "Orange Alert" to its students and staff, saying that high winds are expected and advising the SU community to seek shelter indoors. Click here to view a slideshow of images of flooding on the SU campus.
The Syracuse Chiefs say their home game vs. the Toledo Mud Hens has been postponed due to the weather. The game will be made up as part of a doubleheader on Wednesday starting at 5:00 p.m.
Take a look at the attached slideshow and video player for a glimpse of what the storm looked like here in Syracuse.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.