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Monday, June 29, 2009

Wethersfield Tornado--Latest Information & Why The Damage In Farmington WAS NOT Deemed Tornadic


The National Weather Service issued a more detailed report of the severe thunderstorms that ripped through the area on Friday. Let me know if you have any questions...but I think this statement is pretty readable. (Not too technical).

...EF1 TORNADO TOUCHED DOWN IN WETHERSFIELD CT ON FRIDAY JUNE 26...

LOCATION: WETHERSFIELD...HARTFORD COUNTY...CONNECTICUT
DATE: FRIDAY JUNE 26 2009
TIME: 450-453 PM
MAXIMUM EF SCALE RATING: EF1
ESTIMATED MAXIMUM WIND SPEED: 100 MPH
MAXIMUM PATH WIDTH: APPROXIMATELY 40 YARDS
PATH LENGTH: APPROXIMATELY 1.7 MILES
*FATALITIES: NONE
*INJURIES: 1

*NOTE THESE NUMBERS COULD CHANGE AFTER ISSUANCE OF THIS PRODUCT.

...SUMMARY...

LATE IN THE AFTERNOON ON JUNE 26...A POWERFUL SEVERE THUNDERSTORM MOVED EAST-SOUTHEASTWARD ACROSS SOUTHERN HARTFORD COUNTY...DOWNING TREES AND POWERLINES ACROSS MANY TOWNS...INCLUDING BURLINGTON...FARMINGTON...PLAINVILLE...WEST HARTFORD...SOUTHINGTON...BRISTOL...NEW BRITAIN...NEWINGTON...WETHERSFIELD... GLASTONBURY... AND MARLBOROUGH. HARDEST HIT WERE THE TOWNS OF WETHERSFIELD AND
FARMINGTON.

ON SATURDAY JUNE 27...TWO NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE (NWS) TEAMS INVESTIGATED THE DAMAGE. THE FIRST SURVEY TEAM WAS FROM THE NWS IN TAUNTON MASSACHUSETTS WHICH LOOKED AT DAMAGE IN THOSE TWO TOWNS AND SPOKE WITH EYEWITNESSES. THEY WERE ACCOMPANIED BY STATE EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT...LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIALS...AND AN AMATEUR RADIO COORDINATOR FROM WESTERN MASSACHUSETTS. THE SECOND TEAM WAS FROM THE NWS IN UPTON NEW YORK. AIDED BY THE CIVIL AIR PATROL...THEY PERFORMED AN AERIAL ASSESSMENT OF THE DAMAGE FROM AS FAR WEST AS TORRINGTON TO AS FAR EAST AS COLCHESTER. THE FOLLOWING IS A SUMMARY OF THESE INVESTIGATIONS.

SEVERAL POCKETS OF STRAIGHT-LINE WIND DAMAGE WERE NOTED THROUGHOUT THE AFOREMENTIONED TOWNS. IN FARMINGTON...THE STORM HIT GENERALLY AROUND 420 PM. ESTIMATED WIND GUSTS OF 50-60 MPH KNOCKED DOWN TREES IN THE VALLEY VIEW DRIVE AND CEDAR RIDGE DRIVE AREAS...JUST TO THE EAST OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CONNECTICUT HEALTH CENTER. THE DAMAGE WAS RANDOM AND MANY OF THE AFFECTED TREES HAD SHALLOW ROOTS WITH HOLLOW CENTERS. FARTHER TO THE NORTHWEST...IN THE UNIONVILLE SECTION OF FARMINGTON...15 TO 20 TREES WERE KNOCKED DOWN ON PERRY STREET NEAR THE FARMINGTON RIVER. THESE WERE HEALTHIER TREES. A DIVERGENT PATTERN WAS SEEN IN THE DAMAGE WHICH AGAIN INDICATED STRAIGHT LINE WINDS...OR A SMALL MICROBURST. WIND SPEEDS WERE ESTIMATED AT 60 TO 70 MPH AT THAT LOCATION. THROUGHOUT THE TOWN...ALL TREES WERE BLOWN DOWN FROM THE WEST-NORTHWEST TO THE EAST-SOUTHEAST. INTERESTINGLY...19 HOURS AFTER THE EVENT...A SOLID PATCH OF HAIL STILL REMAINED ON THE FRONT LAWN AT A HOME ON PERRY STREET.

IN WETHERSFIELD...DAMAGE WAS MUCH MORE SIGNIFICANT. NUMEROUS TREES WERE KNOCKED DOWN...SOME DRIVEN COMPLETELY THROUGH HOMES MAKING THEM UNINHABITABLE. STREET LIGHTS WERE STILL OUT. LARGE HEALTHY OAK TREES WERE SLICED IN HALF...SOME NEAR THEIR BASES... AND OTHERS WERE UPROOTED WITH ROOTS EXPOSED. ALTHOUGH MANY TREES WERE SEEN BLOWN DOWN FROM THE WEST-NORTHWEST TO THE EAST-SOUTHEAST...THE GROUND SURVEY WAS ABLE TO DISCERN A DEFINITIVE TORNADO TRACK EMBEDDED WITHIN THIS GENERAL STRAIGHT-LINE DAMAGE.

ON WOLCOTT HILL ROAD NEAR ROBBINS DRIVE...TREES WERE FALLEN FACING DUE SOUTH. FARTHER TO THE SOUTHEAST...IN THE SOUTHERN PORTION OF OLD WETHERSFIELD... A VERY INTERESTING PATTERN WAS FOUND IN THE TREE DAMAGE. ON BROAD STREET AT THE GREEN... TREES AT RAYNOR LANE WERE POINTING TO THE NORTHEAST WHILE ONLY A BLOCK OR TWO NORTH ON ELM STREET...TREES WERE POINTING TO THE SOUTHEAST...INDICATINGCONVERGENCE TOWARD A VERY NARROW TRACK. FOLLOWING ELM STREET SOUTHEASTWARD BETWEEN MAPLE STREET AND INTERSTATE 91...THERE WAS A CORN FIELD. THE FLATTENED CORN STALKS WERE IN A CRISS-CROSS PATTERN AND ABOUT 100 FEET INTO THE CORN FIELD...THERE WERE TALL STALKS THAT WERE SEEMINGLY NOT IMPACTED AT ALL BY THE WINDS. THIS SHARP DELINEATION IS INDICATIVE OF TORNADIC WINDS. FARTHER TO THE NORTHWEST...ALONG THIS SAME NARROW PATH...SIGNIFICANT TREE DAMAGE OCCURRED NEAR THE INTERSECTION OF PARK AVENUE AND NOTT STREET.

ANOTHER INDICATOR OF A TORNADO WAS A MEDIA REPORT OF A STORE ON SILAS DEANE HIGHWAY DIRECTLY ACROSS FROM THE TOWN HALL WHICH HAD ITS LARGE WINDOWS SUCKED OUTWARD...WITH A KAYAK FROM INSIDE THE STORE BEING DEPOSITED ON THE ROAD IN FRONT OF THE STORE.

SO...THE TRACK STARTED NEAR NOTT STREET AND PARK AVENUE AND CONTINUED SOUTHEASTWARD FOR APPROXIMATELY 1.7 MILES PASSING JUST SOUTH OF THE TOWN HALL AND ACROSS THE GREEN BETWEEN RAYNOR LANE AND ELM STREET AND ENDING JUST AFTER THE CORN FIELD BEFORE INTERSTATE I-91. CALLS BEGAN BEING RECEIVED AT THE 9-1-1 CALL CENTER AT 450 PM.

WITH THE STORM TRAVELING AT 25 TO 30 MPH...THE TORNADO IS ESTIMATED TO HAVE LASTED FOR ABOUT 3 MINUTES IN WETHERSFIELD. STRAIGHT LINE WIND DAMAGE OCCURRED BOTH BEFORE AND AFTER THIS...DUE TO THE STRENGTH OF THE LARGER PARENT THUNDERSTORM CELL.

INDEPENDENTLY...THE GROUND SURVEY TEAM AND THE AERIAL SURVEY TEAM ESTIMATED WIND SPEEDS OF 80 TO 90 MPH WITH SOME GUSTS PROBABLY AROUND 100 MPH. THE DAMAGE INDICATORS SEEN WERE CONSISTENT WITH AN ENHANCED FUJITA SCALE RANKING OF EF1. IT IS IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT BOTH TEAMS FOUND THAT THERE WAS LITTLE EVIDENCE IN THE WAY OF
STRUCTURAL DAMAGE TO HOMES OR BUSINESSES...EXCEPT FOR THOSE WHICH WERE HIT DIRECTLY BY FALLING TREES.

EYEWITNESSES REPORTED A LOUD ROARING NOISE BUT DID NOT OBSERVE THE TORNADO...WHICH WAS LIKELY OBSCURED BY HEAVY RAIN AND LARGE HAIL. QUARTER TO HALF DOLLAR SIZE HAIL WAS COMMON IN WETHERSFIELD.

APPROXIMATELY ONE-QUARTER MILE TO THE NORTH OF THE TRACK...A HOME WAS SLICED IN HALF BY A LARGE OAK TREE WHILE TWO RESIDENTS WERE INSIDE. AMAZINGLY...THEY ESCAPED WITHOUT INJURY. ON JUNE 27...THE DAY AFTER THE EVENT...A TREE LIMB THAT HAD BEEN BROKEN OFF DURING THE STORM BUT WHICH HAD REMAINED HIGH UP IN THE TREE FELL DOWN AND STRUCK A MAN. THIS WAS THE ONLY REPORTED INJURY. WHILE IT IS POSSIBLE THAT THIS NARROW TORNADO MAY HAVE AFFECTED OTHER AREAS TO THE SOUTHEAST OF WETHERSFIELD...IT COULD NOT BE CONFIRMED BY THE AERIAL SURVEY TEAM. AGAIN...MOST OF WHAT THEY COULD
SEE FROM THE AIR WAS STRAIGHT-LINE WIND DAMAGE SCATTERED ACROSS THE ENTIRE ROUTE...FROM LITCHFIELD COUNTY...THROUGH THE SOUTHERN HALF OF HARTFORD COUNTY....AND INTO EXTREME NORTHERN NEW LONDON COUNTY.

ON BEHALF OF THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE...WE WOULD LIKE TO EXPRESS OUR SINCERE APPRECIATION TO ALL PEOPLE INVOLVED WITH THIS SURVEY PROCESS. IN PARTICULAR...THE CONNECTICUT DEPARTMENT OF EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AND HOMELAND SECURITY...THE CIVIL AIR PATROL...FARMINGTON AND WETHERSFIELD POLICE CHIEFS...WETHERSFIELD TOWN MANAGER...AND THE WESTERN MASSACHUSETTS AMATEUR RADIO COORDINATOR. ALSO...A SPECIAL THANK YOU TO THE PEOPLE WHO WERE DIRECTLY IMPACTED BY THIS EVENT YET TOOK THE TIME TO SPEAK WITH US.

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