2011 tornado: could it happen again? - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Five Years Later

2011 tornado: could it happen again?

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(Image from Western Mass News video) (Image from Western Mass News video)
SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -

The morning of June 1, 2011 was warm and humid.  Weather-wise, there was nothing unusual about it, but First Warning Meteorologist Dan Brown knew this day was going to be a busy one, and so did National Weather Service Forecaster Hayden Frank.

"There were indications of a potential severe weather outbreak several days in advance, so it certainly wasn't a surprise," Frank explained.

The National Weather Service issued a Tornado Watch early in the afternoon of June 1, 2011, but what took place over the next several hours no one could have predicted. 

A tornado developed over Westfield at 4:17 p.m., then quickly grew into an EF-3 tornado as it blew into West Springfield.

The storm then twisted over the Connecticut River then into Springfield, Wlibraham, Monson, Brimfield, Southbridge, and Charlton before dissipating at 5:17 p.m.

The tornado was on the ground for 70 minutes covering a 39 mile swath of destruction. 

On radar, it was like something out of a Meteorology text book. 

"The presentation of the Springfield tornado was as classic as you get. It looked just like something you would see in the Central Plains," said Park.

First Warning Meteorologist Dan Brown said, "there have been three other deadly tornadoes to effect the area in the last 60 years."

The 1953 Worcester Tornado injured thousands and killed 94 people. It's one of the deadliest tornadoes in U.S.history. 

The 1979 Windsor Locks Tornado killed two people and destroyed 20 vintage aircraft as it ripped through the New England Air Museum. 

In addition, the 1995 Memorial Day Tornado that blew through Great Barrington, killing two people as well. 

With advancements in Doppler Radar and the help of social media forecasters have come a long way in getting the word out when twisters strike, but Frank said that during severe storms, people must stay weather ready. 

"We're only talking about 10 to 15 minutes of lead time, so although we've improved quite a bit when there is a tornado, people have to react quickly."

According to Frank and Brown, there is no indication that tornadoes have increased in frequency here in western Massachusetts or across the country, but with iPhones and video, we are certainly getting to see more of these storms up close and personal. 

There is no way to know what Mother Nature has in store for us, but with improving technology and instant communication, we certainly will be more prepared then ever before. 

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