Tornado hits western Mass., likely the first February twister recorded in New England
A tornado in New England is unusual but not necessarily a rare event, except during the middle of the winter.
Saturday evening's thunderstorms in western Massachusetts were powerful enough to produce a tornado in Franklin County.
The National Weather Service in Taunton sent meteorologists to assess the damage on Sunday, and the team concluded the damage was caused by a EF-1 tornado.
This was the first February tornado to be recorded in Massachusetts, and likely the only February tornado on record in New England.
The weather service says the highest winds were estimated to be 110 mph, though most of the damage occurred with 80 to 100 mph winds. The hardest hit area was Conway. A brief touchdown also occurred in Goshen, Mass.
It's important to realize tornado records before the mid-1900s are spotty at best. Before Doppler Radar became mainstream, in many cases tornadoes literally needed to be spotted to be confirmed. Social media can be credited today for getting the word out about the damage, prompting the weather service to investigate the damage.
More details will be released Monday.