25 years later, remembering the Microburst of 1995

Microburst retrospective

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Wednesday marked the 25th anniversary of the 1995 Microburst, a storm which tore a path through the north country.

What most people remember is the lightning and the strong straight-line winds. The destruction was unbelievable.

In St. Lawrence County, Star Lake took the brunt of the storm. Huge, decades-old trees came down, crushing camps and cars.

Back in '95, we talked with Star Lake Fire Chief Mike Daniels and the legislature chair, Steve Teele, both spoke with us this week, remembering the storm.

"I wasn't 100 yards from the house and trees were everywhere. You couldn't get anywhere. A 10 minute walk to the fire hall took over an hour," said Daniels.

"We just don't see anything like this - how big it was - from Star Lake and Cranberry Lake. This was a big deal, definitely," said Teele.

Seeing these pictures - it is amazing no one in the north country died in the storms. However, the destruction was massive. There were 500 homes in Jefferson County, 200 in Lewis County were heavily damaged or destroyed.

From the sky it looked maybe a tornado hit the north country, but it wasn't. It was a microburst - strong, straight-lined winds that could have cost Dale Kloster his life.

"When it blew over, it tipped over just like a tree this way," he said.

Kloster owns a farm in the town of Harrisburg. We spoke to him back in 1995. He says he and his nephew left the barn moments before it collapsed..

"Oh, it was about 10 seconds probably. I walked in the house, I was going to shut the windows and stuff 'cause the power went off and I knew the wind was blowing and stuff," he said.

Kloster says he's lucky, even though many of his cows died.

"I don't think either one of us would have made it. I was almost numb, is what the deal was. I knew it could have been bad. I mean, it really could have been bad," he said.

In Watertown, homes were buried under trees and power lines. Elridge Johnson's home became a death trap.

"The roof had caved in and I couldn't see; the lights were out," he said.

Meanwhile, cars were crushed at the Pine Tree Point Resort in Alexandria Bay. We spoke to Rick Thomson, the owner, back then.

"No electricity. We got some gas. We got some generators running some things," he said.

Walt Dingman, Alexandria Bay assistant fire chief, reflects on what the winds did at the Bay Drive In.

"Took the screen and threw it across the road into David Vanbrockland's yard. There was poles down; it lifted trailers up and just picked them up and slammed all over the place. Never in my life had I seen anything of that magnitude," he said.

The storm moved though LaFargeville and ripped apart the Can-Am Speedway. The owner had just put hundreds of thousands of dollars into repairs. Fire Chief Wade Ingalls saw the destruction.

"It started out with a call to the race track. The towers were scattered all over. About the same time, we got calls for a house off its foundation. The house next door had windows blown out and glass was all over," he said.

Despite all the damage, the north country came together to help each other weather the storm.

Like many north country families, the Kloster family was able to rebuild. They had a barn raising in November of 1995.

"There must have been a couple of hundred people here. It was something else," said Kloster.

He hopes the memories of the Microburst of 1995 stay just that, memories.

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