Tornadoes are considered rare in this part of the country, with Massachusetts averaging 1-2 tornadoes a year (from 1991 to 2015-UStornadoes.com).
However, going back nearly 70 years, our numbers are rather impressive with over 3 dozen tornadoes recorded in western Mass.
In recent history, most think of the June 2011 tornado that took 4 lives and injured over 70 others in Hampden County. Occurring in the afternoon and staying on the ground for over 37 miles, this tornado was seen by many and was well documented. It did $175 million in damage with over 1400 homes and 78 businesses impacted and over 10,000 acres of woodlands destroyed. This is the deadliest tornado to hit western Mass since records have been kept.
Before the 2011 tornado, the strongest on record for the Pioneer Valley was an EF3 tornado that briefly touched down in Northampton. This tornado only caused 10 or 15 thousand dollars in damage as it was only on the ground for a few hundred feet.
The strongest tornado to hit western Mass occurred on May 29th, 1995 in southern Berkshire County. This tornado was on the ground for over 11 miles and caused a lot of damage in the Great Barrington area. This EF4 tornado was estimated to have wind gusts to 260 mph for a time. This tornado was the deadliest on record in western Mass with 3 fatalities-until the 2011 tornado.
The deadliest tornado to hit Massachusetts was in June of 1953 across central Mass. Similar to the 2011 Springfield tornado, this one began in the afternoon and continued through the evening commute in the Worcester area. This tornado was on the ground for nearly an hour and a half and killed 94 people and injured over 1200. Debris from this storm was found in the Atlantic.
Another note-worthy tornado hit the Windsor Locks, CT area on October 3, 1979 and stayed on an 11 mile path that went through part of Bradley airport and ended in the Feeding Hills area of Agawam. This tornado is the most destructive to hit Connecticut. This EF4 took 3 lives, injured over 500 and caused over $400 million in damage.