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NYC tornadoes 'not uncommon' in late summer

Most people wouldn't say New York and tornado in the same breath.

But two twisters that touched down in the nation's biggest city Saturday are the latest of about 60 small tornadoes that have hit the area in the past half-century. Saturday's pair brings to 10 the total number of tornadoes since 2007 in New York City, according to the National Weather Service.

To some, the tornadoes of the past few years might appear to be an uptick in the trend. Not so fast, said meteorologist David Stark of the weather service.

"In the past five years, there's been a slight increase in the number of tornadoes in the area, but it's too short a period of time to say it's a growing trend," Stark said.

He pointed to the previous five years, 2001-2006, when a total of eight twisters were recorded.

"That's not to say the touchdowns are going to continue at the same pace," noted Stark. "It's up and down, up and down, and it's not uncommon in the late summer months to see this."

So if the tornadoes in recent years were not unusual, why, then, were they memorable?

Part of the answer may lie in New Yorkers' pockets and handbags, where in recent years many have had a camera close at hand, thanks to ever-evolving cellphone technology. And the rise in social media offers a quick way to spread images and footage of funnel clouds or of winds up to 110 miles per hour wreaking havoc on neighborhoods -- as was the case in Brooklyn and Queens on Saturday.

In addition, said Stark, people know of storms much earlier than in the past because of technology. That means they can prepare for storms earlier, whether by ducking into the basement or just being aware enough to consider snapping a picture.

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