Killer Tornadoes First In 16 Years for Massachusetts

This GOES-East satellite imagery of the region was taken at 4:15 EDT, the same time that tornadoes were spotted on the ground. The overshooting cloud tops can be seen in Central and Western Massachusetts, indicative of intense thunderstorm activity. (Image credit: NOAA.)

Killer tornadoes claimed four lives across Massachusetts yesterday during the state's deadliest outbreak of tornadoes in 16 years.

Tornadoes in Massachusetts are rare, but not unheard of even bigger twisters will occasionally strike the state. Once the damage from yesterday's storms has been assessed, however, the tornado outbreak could be among the worst ever for the state, which averages about two to three tornadoes per year.

"This is probably a once in 100 years, probably more, weather event," said Sen. John Kerry in a press conference.

Preliminarily, 18 tornadoes were reported across the state, although that number will most likely be lower as experts rule out duplicate reports. Yet the death toll is already known to be among the state's highest, adding to what has already been a historically violent tornado season .

The last time a deadly tornado struck Massachusetts was May 29, 1995, according to the National Climatic Data Center. That tornado, an EF-4 on the tornado damage scale, killed three people in the town of North Egremont.

Massachusetts was hit by one of the nation's deadliest tornadoes in 1953, when an EF-4 tornado killed 90 people in Worcester.

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Storm survey teams are currently assessing the damage from yesterday's tornado outbreak, according to the National Weather Service office in Boston. The storms tore up the roofs of large buildings in Springfield, which is consistent with an EF-2 or EF-3 tornado, according to the Enhanced Fujita damage scale .

Reach OurAmazingPlanet staff writer Brett Israel at Follow him on Twitter @btisrael.

Brett Israel was a staff writer for Live Science with a focus on environmental issues. He holds a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biology from The University of Georgia, a master’s degree in journalism from New York University, and has studied doctorate-level biochemistry at Emory University.