Lethal tornadoes tear through Massachusetts

Thursday 02nd Jun 2011 by theWeather Club

Barely five days after twisters devastated the city of Joplin in Missouri, the United States has fallen prey to another deadly cluster - this time in the north east state of Massachusetts. Leaving a trail of destruction across 24 towns, the twisters have killed at least four people so far, and there are fears more deaths will emerge as the rescue operations get underway.

In the meantime a state of emergency has been declared in Springfield, Massachusetts' third largest city, where 33 injuries have been reported. State Governor Deval Patrick told a news conference the first and most powerful tornado beat a path from Westfield, just west of Springfield, right through to the community of Douglas in the east. A second, less powerful tornado stormed through West Springfield two hours later. Meanwhile the Connecticut River, which runs between the two affected areas, was whipped up by the strong winds, and the surrounding area pounded by hail and heavy rain.

Tornadoes are not totally unheard of in that area of the States: in 1953 the 21st deadliest tornado in US history tore across central Massachusetts and left 94 people dead. However, they are more commonly found in the southern states, and are rarely seen this far north. Speaking in the aftermath of the destruction Rev Bob Marrone of the First Church of Monson said the storm cleared a view he had never seen before across the valley where the town sits.

"I can see the plywood of roofs, and see houses where most of the house is gone," he told the Guardian. "The road that runs up in front of my house ... There's so many trees down, it's completely impassable."

Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency spokesman Scott MacLeod said the damage included "trees and numerous power lines down, roofs ripped off of homes, things like cars and SUVs that have been toppled over." Initially the state governor, said there had been reports of looting, but these soon dwindled with the outbreak of heavy rains.

Meteorologists explained that the severe weather was the result of colder air clashing with a warm, humid system that has produced soaring temperatures through many of the mid-Atlantic states in the past week. Yesterday's storm struck after a tornado alert was issued for much of the East Coast, including Boston and the state of New York.