Archive for June 2nd, 2011

Mass. Towns Digging Out After Tornadoes Kill Four

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

More killer tornadoes, this time in Massachusetts, a state that usually doesn’t have very many tornadoes. This year has been very bad about tornadoes hitting populated areas.
Continue to pray for the people affected by the storms so far this season.

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) – Residents in tornado-damaged parts of western and central Massachusetts are being urged to stay off roads, schools are closed and state workers have the day off as officials assess damage and begin the daunting task of cleaning up.

At least two late-afternoon tornadoes on Wednesday shocked the region more accustomed to dealing with snow than funnel clouds. Four people were killed and dozens injured.

In the state’s third largest city, Springfield, up to 1,000 National Guardsmen are patrolling streets to discourage looting and a state of emergency has been called. Power is still out for tens of thousands.

But Gov. Deval Patrick told ABC’s “Good Morning America” Thursday that he feels fortunate the death toll wasn’t higher, considering how quickly the tornadoes formed.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

The Rev. Bob Marrone was pained to see the steeple of his 137-year-old church shattered and strewn on the grass in the central Massachusetts town of Monson, yet he knows he’s more fortunate than some of his neighbors who lost their homes after tornadoes tore through the state, killing at least four people, damaging buildings, uprooting trees and shattering lives.

“I can see the plywood of roofs, and see houses where most of the house is gone,” said Marrone, pastor of The First Church of Monson. “The road that runs up in front of my house … There’s so many trees down, it’s completely impassable.”

Residents of 19 small communities in central and western Massachusetts were left to deal with widespread damage Thursday, one day after at least two late-afternoon tornadoes shocked emergency officials and residents more accustomed to dealing with snow and bone-chilling cold than funnel clouds spawned by spring storms.

The state normally averages about two tornadoes per year, with the last lethal twister in 1995.

“It was obviously an incredible surprise … we’d been monitoring the weather all day and by early afternoon nobody was overly concerned … but by late afternoon some storm clouds started to appear,” spawning tornadoes that battered several towns, said Peter Judge of the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.

“Getting severe thunderstorms is not very unusual for a late afternoon at this time of the year, but damaging tornadoes in heavily populated areas are rare,” Judge said. “We may have a couple of very slight tornadoes during the course of the year. They end up being in the forest somewhere, but not in major populated areas.”

Some experts were to fly over the region Thursday to assess damage from the nation’s latest burst of damaging weather, while others planned to review the situation from the ground to determine the number and strength of tornadoes that hit the region, National Weather Service meteorologist Benjamin Sipprell said.

“We are definitely analyzing the damage, the structure of the damage, the path of the damage, the width of the damage, video taken by the local community—we are looking for indication on a structural and engineering basis to determine how fast the winds were,” Sipprell said.

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