WESTFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – It was 10 years ago this day that a powerful EF-3 tornado ripped through western Massachusetts.
The initial thunderstorm developed over Hampden County and gradually strengthened as it moved eastwards. The National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm warning for this storm, and weak rotation was indicated on the doppler weather radar.
At around 4:17 p.m., a tornado touched down in the Munger Hill section of Westfield.
“I’ll never forget I was driving home and listening to the news and hearing it was traveling over the river and I started freaking out. I was driving by Six Flags and could see the sky. Then my family got a hold of me, they were able to get through and they said the tornado just went through our backyard,” said Jim Salzer of Westfield.
The once wooded backyard that Salzer had was destroyed and turned into a football field after the tornado went through. The governor declared a state of emergency and activated more than 1,000 National Guard troops for rescue and recovery efforts.
22News spoke with another Westfield resident who recalled this tragic day.
“My brother has said there might be some tornados up north, so I wasn’t thinking it was happening towards us,” said Bethany Liquori. “I had a baby at the time and I ran and told my daughter to grab the baby and head to the basement and before I knew it there were trees down everywhere. We couldn’t get to my mom’s house. There were just trees everywhere.”
Now Liquori did say that the community came together after this tornado to help with all of the cleanups that needed to be done.
This tornado, which was classified as an EF-3 tornado, started in Westfield and went through 10 towns and cities before coming to an end at 5:27 p.m. in Charlton.
It is important to know that the safest part of your house to go to during a tornado would be a windowless room on the lowest level of your house, such as the basement, bathroom, closet, or hallway.