Massachusetts is thousands of miles away from tornado alley. You wouldn't think the state would be under the threat for tornadoes, would you?
Well... no. We're still threatened by tornadoes each year. A state-wide (excluding Berkshire County) tornado watch, like what happened yesterday, is an uncommon occurrence, though.
Tornadoes in MA are rare, and those that do happen are minor, causing under $50k in property damage on average. Severe tornadoes, like what happened in Worcester in 1953, Springfield in 2011 and Revere in 2014 are rare.
According to the Tornado History Project, 162 tornadoes have hit Massachusetts between 1951 and 2014 (this number can now be brought up to 163 between 1951 and 2015), a rate of 3 tornadoes per year. Worcester County has been the hardest-hit, with 42 recorded tornadoes since 1950. The county I live in, Bristol County, meanwhile, has only 13 recorded tornadoes since 1950. The one that struck Revere, meanwhile, was the first in at least 64 years for Suffolk County. The one that struck Wrentham yesterday was the 11th in Norfolk County.
As for how deadly they are, just over 100 people have been killed by tornadoes in Massachusetts since 1950, while nearly 1600 others have suffered tornado-related injuries.
The four most devastating tornadoes to hit Massachusetts are:
- Great Worcester (6/9/1953; 94 deaths, 1288 injured; F-4)
- West Stockbridge (8/28/1973; 4 deaths, 40 injured; F-4)
- Great Barrington (5/29/1995; 3 deaths, 24 injuries; F-4)
- Springfield (6/1/2011; 3 deaths, 200 injuries; EF-3)
And now you know. Just because we're thousands of miles away from tornado alley doesn't automatically make us immune. That being said, most tornadoes to have hit the state spawn in western MA, where the land is flatter. Eastern MA is more hilly, which is something tornadoes don't like.