Springfield, Massachusetts (MA) tornado gets Fujita rating EF-3, should be no surprise, state has history of violent tornadoes (Video, Pictures, Map, KMZ)

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Monson Area of the Springfield, MA 2011 tornado

The unexpected tornadoes that landed in Springfield, Massachusetts on June 1, 2011, one of which sucked water from a local river and was declared an EF-3 (on a scale of 5), took the public and the media by surprise.  Yet, the stereotype that only Oklahoma or Kansas are regularly affected by tornadoes is just a myth. Massachusetts, as many other north eastern states, has known several violent and destructive tornadoes in the last 60 years. The 1953 Worcester tornado was one of the most

1953 Worcester tornado. Assumtion College damage. via Wikipedia
1953 Worcester tornado. Assumtion College damage. via Wikipedia

destructive in the nation, killing many people and wounding thousands. Assumption College was completely devastated. As indicated by the table below, Worcester is next to many southern and western cities in terms of historical tornado impact. The table (UPDATED) lists the counties most affected by tornadoes in the last 6 decades (the impact column multiplies average tornado intensity, number of casualties and area of destruction). The data for the table was provided by the National Atlas and the methodology is explained in a previous post.




TX Archer 27 1888 100.0
OK Kay 81 695 86.1
MA Worcester 33 1362 85.7
OH Greene 14 1306 84.9
KS Labette 31 534 83.9
NY Genesee 36 1090 81.2
OK Grady 53 653 77.5
IN Clinton 13 865 76.6
MS Copiah 32 187 76.5
SC Marlboro 13 508 76.5
IN Steuben 9 342 76.0
AK Woodruff 24 546 75.8
MS Jones 49 456 75.5
MS Issaquena 6 855 74.1
PE Clearfield 6 0 73.8
GE Bartow 14 112 73.2
NE Webster 31 8 73.0
AL Jefferson 70 605 72.9
IN Benton 15 306 72.9
LO Franklin 22 568 72.2

Springfield, Massachusetts Tornado Path Map

Help us improve the path by editing this map http://matei.org/url/16g. Click edit and drag the path until it matches what you know to be the real path. (You might need to log in with a Google or Gmail account.)

Springfield MA tornado path. Click on the image for interactive Google Maps/Earth View. Click Earth button for 3d View.
Springfield MA tornado path. Click on the image for interactive Google Maps/Earth View. Click Earth button for 3d View.

US Historical Tornado Map: Counties most impacted by tornadoes (1950-2008)

legend tornado impact map

The map below sets the Massachusetts tornadoes in perspective. It depicts in shades of color how much was each county in each US state was impacted by tornadoes over the past 60 years. The numbers reflect three intensity factors (casualties, tornado intensity, and area of destruction) multiplied by the number of tornadoes that afflicted each county. (0 represents no impact and the higher the negative number, the lower the impact.).

As can be seen, Massachusets had its fair share of tornadoes. In fact, several counties in the north east, including upstate New York have seen intense tornadoes in the last sixty years.  Zoom in to view more details and match the color with the legend to the left. The most impacted area of the United States remain, however, the south-central region of the country.

You can also see the map of overtime tornado impact in 3d. Click “Earth” button in upper right corner of map.

Alternately, you can view a clickable version of the map, which provides county level data (impact factor, number of tornadoes and casualties). http://matei.org/url/146

The map of tornado overtime impact also reveals that the most affected areas are more likely to be in the Midwest and South than in the proverbial Kansas/Oklahoma tornado alley. 10 of the 20 most affected counties are in Southern states. Impact is a calculated score, as discussed above (Scale x fatality x area x number of tornadoes). “Destruction” = average square miles destroyed by tornadoes. Deaths, injuries, and scale reflect 60 year averages. Count represents how many tornadoes hit the county in the last sixty years. According to the the National Atlas data, Jefferson County, Alabama was visited by 70 tornadoes and Jones County, Mississippi was hit by tornadoes 49 times in sixty years.

2011 tornado season Picture Gallery

WFSB Pictures of Springfield, MA Tornado

Sorin Adam Matei

Sorin Adam Matei - Professor of Communication at Purdue University - studies the relationship between information technology and social groups. He published papers and articles in Journal of Communication, Communication Research, Information Society, and Foreign Policy. He is the author or co-editor of several books. The most recent is Structural differentation in social media. He also co-edited Ethical Reasoning in Big Data,Transparency in social media and Roles, Trust, and Reputation in Social Media Knowledge Markets: Theory and Methods (Computational Social Sciences) , all three the product of the NSF funded KredibleNet project. Dr. Matei's teaching portfolio includes online interaction, and online community analytics and development classes. His teaching makes use of a number of software platforms he has codeveloped, such as Visible Effort . Dr. Matei is also known for his media work. He is a former BBC World Service journalist whose contributions have been published in Esquire and several leading Romanian newspapers. In Romania, he is known for his books Boierii Mintii (The Mind Boyars), Idolii forului (Idols of the forum), and Idei de schimb (Spare ideas).

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