Massachusetts Has the Potential for Killer Tornadoes
When it comes to twisters, Massachusetts residents are by no means likely to wind up in Oz anytime soon, but killer tornadoes have occurred here and will no doubt occur again.
Fewer tornadoes occur in New England than anywhere east of the Rocky Mountains. However, twisters do occur; on average, about eight tornados are reported in the region each year.
In recorded history, at least 200 people in New England have died in tornadoes.
Massachusetts averages three to four tornadoes annually. Fewer are likely in the five remaining New England states. While most New England tornadoes are small, several have been costly in lives and property damage.
Most tornadoes reported in the six-state region are weak, rated EF0 or EF1 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale. Some 30 percent are "significant" tornados (rated EF2 or higher), and only one percent are violent (rated EF4 or EF5).
New England's "Tornado Alley" consists of western and central Massachusetts, Connecticut and southern New Hampshire.
An EF0 tornado was reported in New Bedford at 2:20 p.m. on September 14, 1972, in the South Terminal area, east of MacArthur Drive. There was no damage and no injuries reported.
An EF2 tornado was spotted over the water just off East Beach on East Rodney French Boulevard at 9 p.m. on August 28, 1970. Again, there were no reports of damage or injuries.
The June 9, 1953, Worcester Tornado killed 90 people and injured more than 1,245 others. The EF4 storm caused nearly $260 million in damage.
Thirty-four people died when an EF4 tornado struck Wallingford, Connecticut August 8, 1878.
On May 29, 1994, an EF4 tornado struck Great Barrington, Massachusetts, with winds estimated at 260 miles per hour. The storm killed three people and leveled the Great Barrington Fairgrounds.
As recently as June 1, 2011, a strong tornado struck downtown Springfield, Massachusetts, killing three people.
Tornadoes are most likely in New England during June, July, and August and are most likely to occur between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m.