Tornadoes - June 2011
In contrast to the past two months (April and May), tornado activity during June was below average. According to data from the Storm Prediction Center, there were 177 preliminary tornado reports across the U.S. during June, with most of the activity occurring across the Central Plains. The 30-year (1981-2010) average for U.S. June tornadoes is 224. There were three tornado-related fatalities to occur during the month, when three tornadoes hit western Massachusetts on June 1st. Massachusetts averages three tornadoes annually.
On June 1st, a complex of severe storms swept across the state of Massachusetts, spawning three tornadoes. A cold front associated with a low pressure center over eastern Canada moved into very warm and moist conditions, spawning the tornadoes. Ahead of the cold front several cities across the region broke warm daily temperature records. The most significant of the tornadoes impacted Hampden and Worcester counties. The tornado was rated an EF-3, with estimated winds of 160 mph (257 km/hr), a maximum width of half a mile (0.8 km), and a path length of 39 miles (62.8 km). Tornadoes of this magnitude are uncommon for the northeastern United States, but not unheard of. Approximately eight EF-3 or stronger tornadoes have hit Massachusetts since records began in 1950. This path length was the second longest in the state's history, behind the Worcester tornado [40-mile (64-km) path length] that struck on June 9th, 1953, and killed 94 people. The June 1st, 2011 tornado moved across the southside of downtown Springfield, where it destroyed several buildings. The tornado was responsible for three fatalities in Springfield, and up to 200 injuries over its entire track. The tornado prompted 9,500 insurance claims totaling 175 million U.S. dollars in damage. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick declared a state of emergency and ordered National Guard troops to assist with cleanup efforts.