MyWARN: Needed Everywhere, Including New England

| June 1, 2012

One may think that New England only gets snow and those pesky nor’easters. However that is not the case. Every state in New England experiences severe weather, especially the types of severe weather MyWARN notifies its users for. Mostly severe thunderstorms and flash flooding affect the area, but even tornadoes make an appearance in New England. On June 1, 2011, a  violent EF3 tornado struck Springfield, Massachusetts late in the afternoon. Though rare to the area, tornadoes do strike Massachusetts and other New England States. One of the most famous tornadoes to strike the region was the Worcester, Massachusetts tornado in 1953, that killed 94 people. This tornado was not as strong but proved to be deadly, killing 3 people and causing millions of dollars in damage.

The Springfield tornado proved to be persistent and remained on the ground for an hour and ten minutes with a forty mile long path. The second longest in state history.

Around 4:13 p.m., a strong thunderstorm developed over western Hampden County and gradually intensified as it tracked eastward at 35 mph. This storm prompted a sever thunderstorm warning for portions of Hampden, Hampshire, and Worcester Counties in Massachusetts as well as Hartford, Tolland and Windham Counties in Connecticut. At the time, Doppler weather radar indicated weak rotation within the storm, a sign of a possible tornado and around 4:17 p.m., a tornado touched down in the Munger Hill section of Westfield, Massachusetts. The previous severe thunderstorm warning was then superseded by a tornado warning at 4:18 p.m. following stronger rotation apparent on radar. Within Westfield, damage was mainly confined to trees but a local school did sustain roof damage. Once the tornado moved out of Westfield it moved into West Springfield. It rapidly intensified, causing extensive damage to industrial buildings, removing roofs and the upper floors of three-story apartment complexes. Additionally, a few homes collapsed due to the severity of structural damage. Throughout West Springfield, eighty-eight buildings were destroyed and two people were killed. One woman was killed after her home collapsed on top of her while she was protecting her daughter. Another fatality took place when a oak tree fell on a vehicle, killing the driver.

The storm then crossed the Connecticut River and moved into Metro Center, the most urban and densely populated part of Springfield. This is where a local news station captured the tornado on a skycam crossing the river. As the tornado moved through the metro area the tornado destroyed over 500 homes and buildings. The tornado caused extensive damage to Springfield’s Connecticut River Walk Park, destroying much of the park’s formerly lush tree canopy. Two hundred year-old Heritage Trees in Court Square were uprooted and commercial brick buildings in Springfield’s historic South End sustained extensive damage. Large portions of roofs were removed and numerous, ornate brick facades were completely destroyed. Severe structural damage to apartments and townhouses took place near famous Mulberry Street due east on the campus of Springfield College.

Continuing eastward, the tornado tracked through Wilbraham, causing near-total deforestation and extensive structural damage. The storm then moved through the center of Monson, damaging nearly every structure in the area. Many homes were badly damaged, some of which were completely flattened. A total of seventy-seven buildings were destroyed in the town. The roof of the old Monson High School, which is now the town’s police building, was also completely destroyed.

Shortly before 5:00 p.m., the tornado moved through Brimfield State Forest where it reached its maximum width of one half mile. Thousands of trees were snapped and uprooted in this area. Near Brimfield, the Village Green Campground, a trailer park, was almost completely destroyed with 95 out of 96 trailers destroyed. One person was killed after her RV was overturned by the tornado.  Losses in this area exceeded $1 million. Around 5:09 p.m., another tornado warning was issued to include portions of Norfolk County, Massachusetts and Providence County, Rhode Island. Significant damage took place to both buildings and trees for several miles before the storm moved into Southbridge. There, the Southbridge Airport sustained some damage and aircraft were picked up and thrown into the nearby woods. Once through the airport, the tornado weakened and eventually dissipated in southwestern Charlton at 5:27 p.m.

MyWARN once again follows you, allowing the user to be alerted when they are directly threatened, no matter where that is, along as it is covered by the National Weather Service, you will be alerted. MyWARN will live stream the feed from a local television station that will provide even more life-saving information. Make sure you add MyWARN to you severe weather safety plan. At home or traveling cross-country, MyWARN will notify you.

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