Stuart Nord of Jamestown had just finished a round of golf at Chautauqua Point Golf Course - a typical day playing 18 holes at the lakeside golf course.
When the tornado hit, Nord's day became anything but typical. Sitting in the clubhouse with several other golfers, it was Nord who first noticed the telltale sign of a tornado over Chautauqua Lake.
''We watched the clouds forming over the lake, looking from Chautauqua across to Mayville,'' Nord said. ''It started to look like a funnel and I said, 'Guys, that just touched the water.'''
A visitor to Lakeside Park in Mayville captures an image of the tornado as it crosses Chautauqua Lake toward Dewittville on Saturday.
Photo by Sandra Pitt
Video courtesy of New Jersey residents Chris & Lisa Young, staying at Chautauqua Lake Estates
Then, with what he described as a black ice cream cone coming down, Nord told the other golfers he was with to get down. A few second later, they heard a loud ''bam.''
''We could see flames, but we weren't sure of the source,'' he said.
The source was a utility pole that had been knocked down and set 20 or 30 golf carts on fire. Power lines were knocked down and were seen laying in the parking lot at the golf course. The Maple Springs Volunteer Fire Department was called to respond to the fire as well as Mayville and Dewittville firefighters. Eighteen condos at nearby Chautauqua Lake Estates were badly damaged as was a vacant restaurant adjacent to the golf course. Pink insulation from the roof of the restaurant was scattered across Route 430 and seen hanging in trees at least 50 feet off the ground. A kayak was thrown through a second-floor window at a lakefront condo and parts of the complex's dock were taken from the lake.
Sandra Pitt was at a family reunion in Lakeside Park in Mayville when the tornadoes formed. She said one tornado formed over the water but never touched down.
''By the time it started to form, it was too late to get out of there,'' she said. ''We couldn't get to the cement block building. We stayed in there and luckily, it didn't come down our way. It was really scary. The lifeguards came and got us and told us we had to evacuate to the cement block building. We laughed afterward, but it was scary. We ended up joking, 'Did the secretary get this in their minutes?'''
Mark Jones of 65 Morris St., Mayville, was standing near his neighbor's house when he heard a tornado warning on the radio. It didn't take long for him to see the storm coming.
''I got back to my house and saw it coming,'' he said. ''It touched down very near to my house. It was so fast - it came right across the road. I snapped a couple of pictures and ran to my basement.''
The tornado Nord, Jones and Mrs. Pitt saw was one of three reported in the area on Saturday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service in Buffalo. According to Dave Sage, National Weather Service radio operator, three were reported, with onlookers at Chautauqua Institution reporting they could see the funnel. During the storm, a tree also fell on an Amish buggy near Mayville, and another house in Mayville was hit by a tree.
"There are at least two that we have confirmed," he said earlier Saturday afternoon.
Another tornado was spotted on the Chautauqua/Cattaragus county border moving east, Sage said. That tornado, according to the National Weather Service website, left large trees down on Main Street in Randolph, as well as several down on homes throughout the village. Gas pumps were also blown over at the Sugar Creek store and a tractor-trailer was blown over.