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Tornado watch issued across upstate New York

Tornado watch in upstate New York.
National Weather Service

Most of upstate New York is under a tornado watch for Wednesday afternoon and evening as the remnants of Hurricane Beryl pass across the state.

The National Weather Service is warning of heavy rain and severe thunderstorms through early Thursday morning, with a flood watch issued for Onondaga, Madison, and Oneida counties.

The Finger Lakes region, including Bath and Ithaca, faces a particularly high risk of severe thunderstorms and heavy rain, with a threat of possible tornadoes and damaging wind, according to the weather service.

Governor Kathy Hochul joined WSYR-TV Wednesday to warn residents to prepare.

“If you see water on the street, do not drive into standing water,” said Hochul. “Be vigilant, have your to-go bag, be ready listening to cell phone alerts.”

Hochul said the state has emergency personnel ready to assist with damaged roadways and downed utility lines, and has been in touch with all county governments to provide assistance.

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The storm comes as the state is already experiencing a heat advisory, with “real-feel” temperatures climbing above 100 degrees on Wednesday in some areas, including Ithaca. That creates an additional danger if power lines go out in the storm, Hochul said.

“That is the extreme risk we have now,” Hochul said during the TV interview. “We need counties to ensure that their cooling centers are open, that people are ready to go leave their homes, go to a place where they can keep their children and senior citizens safe in particular.”

Tornadoes are rare in New York, but climate change is making severe storms more common and dangerous.

Hurricane Beryl hit Texas on Monday, with remnants now traveling through New York towards eastern Canada.