On the 1st of June, a tornado touched down in Southbridge in the late afternoon. It left a 39-mile path of damage behind it, the second longest track in Massachusetts’ history.
There are several different scales for rating the strength of tornadoes. The Fujita scale rates tornadoes by damage caused, and has been replaced in some countries by the updated Enhanced Fujita Scale. An F0 or EF0 tornado, the weakest category, damages trees, but not substantial structures. An F5 or EF5 tornado, the strongest category, rips buildings off their foundations and can deform large skyscrapers.
The Southbridge tornado was ranked as F3, with winds at 135-160 mph (220-260kph).
(There’s another Youtube video which shows the devastation directly after the tornado with, in my opinion, a much better commentary but the language is not safe for work: YouTube – Tornado in Brimfield MA.)
I first heard about the devastation from Dan Collins, who has a beautiful SR22 hangared at Southbridge Municipal, which was right on the end of the path of the twister.
This is Dan:
And this is his SR22:
MassDOT Aeronatics reported extensive storm damage to the airport:
The six t-hangar building was destroyed as well as the aircraft inside. The airport’s maintenance building suffered moderate damage. The airport’s office building suffered significant damage. Several sections of the airport security fencing is destroyed. There are approximately 15 aircraft significantly damaged. The aircraft have been thrown across the ramp, and into wooded areas and adjacent swamp. The runway and taxiway pavement are intact with some debris.
Bill Schillhammer of Avidyne was on the scene as a part of the search and rescue operation.
I was one of the CAP personnel tasked to silence the numerous ELTs that obviously were activated. These aircraft were tied down properly and many hangared.
He shared these photographs which were taken by the US Search and Rescue group:
There was another SR22 which was on the site, in the hanger that backs onto Dan’s. That aircraft lies in weeds about 100 yards from the hanger with a crushed cockpit and chute deployed.
Out of 35 aircraft at Southbridge, only 3 survived
And where was Dan’s plane?
Where is my aircraft? It is less than 10 minutes flying time away undergoing its annual inspection. I was annoyed it had taken a week longer than expected. I am not annoyed any more.