Damage Survey Continues

Update: As expected the NWS confirms at least EF-3 damage.

A damage survey is being conducted by the National Weather Service across western Massachusetts to determine the strength of the tornado based on the damage produced from Westfield to Southbridge.

Wikipedia has a fantastic article on the Enhanced Fujita Scale including information on the degree of damage indicators investigators will be looking at.

Just from the video I’ve seen and what I’ve seen personally as best I can determine the tornado touched down in Westfield and moved through West Springfield, and Springfield and then may have lifted in Wilbraham for a period of time. The damage up to this point was consistent with EF-2 damage though it’s possible there was a pocket of EF-3 damage in there but the National Weather Service will have a more definitive answer this afternoon.

The tornado touched down again somewhere near the Monson/Wilbraham line and continued east into Brimfield and then Sturbridge and Southbridge. There appear to be pockets of EF-3 damage in Monson and Brimfield (possibly Southbridge too?) and it’s conceivable that some EF-4 damage occurred. The construction of the buildings needs to be taken into account so it’s impossible for me to judge even having seen the damage up close. The Weather Channel’s Eric Fischer reported last night that one of the questions in the damage survey was how well constructed old wood frame houses are compared to modern construction. Again these are just my impressions based on the damage I saw in person and on video the NWS will release the final information.

I’ll try and post a more detailed meteorological review of the tornado this weekend. It appears that this tornado was another classic example of tornadogenesis occurring in a north/south oriented river valley in New York or New England.  I’ll also try to post more on the damage and rating of this tornado once the National Weather Service releases their findings.

Massachusetts Tornado Through YouTube

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bBmADEj1rnE]

This video appears to be one of the first of the tornado forming. Notice the rotating wall cloud with funnel developing and lowering as the storm moves east across Westfield. The video was shot from the Easthampton Savings Bank in downtown. Damage started just south of downtown and continued east toward West Springfield. The tornado appears to have hit Westfield at about 4:23 when Barnes Airport reported a funnel cloud in their weather observation.

WESTFIELD/BARNES,MA (BAF) ASOS reports Tornado KBAF 012024Z 30005KT 1 1/4SM R20/4500VP6000FT FC +TSRA BKN024 BKN030 OVC065 26/22 A2984 RMK FUNNEL CLOUD B23 E24 AO2 LTG DSNT NW-E TSB1958RAB00 P0023

The tornado continued into West Springfield where some guys at Central Chevrolet capture the storm at a very close distance. Probably only 1/8 mile away.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v4Vb-hG3CkY]

An amateur storm chaser caught the tornado moving overhead in West Springfield shortly before crossing the Connecticut River near the Memorial Bridge rotary. He’s very lucky not to have been seriously injured as the tornado passed literally right over his car.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FkWuz-1sb58]

The tornado then crossed the Connecticut River almost over the Memorial Bridge in one of the most dramatic tornado videos you’ll ever see. This should dispel the myth that tornadoes can’t hit someplace near a lake or river or ocean.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tj5uvC9cLO4]

Here’s what not to do in a tornado from 2 idiots who nearly got themselves killed by driving straight into the circulation. Significant structural damage occured here in Springfield where this video was shot. Note: language NSFW

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=636M8gOEtao]

This next video was shot on the intersection of Parker Street and Wilbraham Road on the east side of Springfield looking toward Wilbraham. This is clearly a mature and very significant tornado at this point doing severe structural damage in the western side of Wilbraham.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4oilWFohUc]

The tornado appears to have lifted for a short period of time over Wibraham before touching down again in the east side of Wilbraham near Monson. Here’s video from that town which should a mature rotating wall cloud and tornadogenesis occurring again.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJIFYEVVRYE]

In Monson I haven’t seen any videos of the actually touchdown but we know it did because the damage is just horrific in town.