The Path to Preparedness: Tornadoes

Weather News

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – When it comes to severe weather tornadoes can be very destructive and even deadly. When thunderstorms become severe they are capable of producing tornadoes.

On average 2 to 3 tornadoes touch down in Massachusetts each year.

While most of the tornadoes we get tend to be on the weak side, there have been a number of very destructive and even deadly tornadoes that have affected western Massachusetts.

The biggest in recent memory: June 1, 2011 Tornado

“Clockwise rotation, there you see it we have some debris on the ground, tornado on the ground right now you’re seeing it live on 22News.” Brian and Nick, 22News Storm Team

Martin Manoogian of Springfield was on the phone with his son during the tornado.

“He said I see it, I can see the tornado from where I am and of course it was across the river going across the Connecticut River.”

That tornado was an EF-3 with winds estimated at 160 mph. It left a path of destruction 39 miles long from Westfield to Charlton. Three people died as a direct result of the tornado and 200 people were injured.

May 29, 1995 Tornado

Back in 1995 on May 29th, Memorial Day another deadly tornado touched down in the Berkshires. The Great Barrington tornado was an F-4 tornado with winds estimated at 260 mph. It leveled the Great Barrington Fairgrounds and killed 3 people, two students and a faculty member from the Eagleton School. 

While it’s more common for severe weather and tornadoes to develop during the spring and summer months, some powerful tornadoes have occurred in the fall and recently in winter.

October 3, 1979 Tornado

October 3rd will mark the 40th anniversary of one of the most remembered tornadoes to touch down in northern Connecticut and western Massachusetts. 

“The enormous task of cleaning up after a killer tornado is facing thousands of people in the Windsor Locks, Connecticut area.” Norm Peters

The Windsor Locks tornado was also an F-4  with winds in excess of 200 mph. It touched down in the town of Windsor, Connecticut and moved up along Route 75 into Feeding Hills.

The tornado all but wiped out the Bradley Air Museum in Windsor Locks, Connecticut. Twenty-five planes were destroyed and the roof was ripped off a hangar. Sixty-five homes were destroyed in the tornado’s 11-mile path of destruction.

In Feeding Hills the Granger Elementary School was shut down for weeks due to water and structural damage.  

In all, three people lost their lives and 500 people were injured.  

February 26, 2017 Tornado

In 2017 we actually had the first ever recorded tornado in the month of February in Massachusetts. The Conway tornado which first touched down in Goshen, occurred on February 26th. It was an EF-1 tornado with maximum winds of 110 miles per hour. It destroyed and caused major damage to homes on Whatley Road including the United Congregational Church.

Tornado Watch vs Tornado Warning

When conditions are favorable for tornadoes to form a Tornado Watch is issued. You should pay close attention to the weather and be prepared to take action. When a tornado is spotted or indicated on the radar a Tornado Warning is issued. You should then take immediate action and head to the basement or the lowest floor of your home and away from any windows.

As we head into May and June our chances for severe weather increase and so does the possibility for a tornado.

The Path to Preparedness:

Rewatch: 22News Storm Team web discussion on severe weather

The 22News Storm Team hosted a live severe weather special online only at

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