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Deadly twisters hit Massachusetts

Andrea Stockton, staff writer

June 2, 2011 — Tornadoes struck parts of Massachusetts on Wednesday. At least four people were killed.

Resident captures the tornado on tape
Resident captures the tornado on tape

Tornadoes roared across the state of Massachusetts on Wednesday afternoon, leaving trails of destruction behind.

Four people were killed by the storms. Two died in West Springfield, one in Springfield, and one in Brimfield.

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick toured the damage on Thursday and declared a state of emergency.

An unstable air mass that formed across several northeastern states on Wednesday heightened the risk for severe weather. The U.S. National Weather Service said conditions were favourable for the development of severe thunderstorms producing large hail, damaging winds and tornadoes. Tornado watches and warnings were issued for some cities and counties stretching between Pennsylvania and Maine.

Following the storms, roofs had been ripped off homes, trees had been uprooted and there were reports of multiple building collapses. Local media said several people were injured and are being treated in hospital.

On Thursday morning, about 26,000 homes were without power.

Significant damage in Brimfield, MA
Significant damage in Brimfield, MA

On average, Massachusetts usually sees three tornado touch downs each year, while Maine typically sees two.

“It's rare, but an unusually warm air mass combined with a strong cold front is what helped to trigger this severe weather,” says Brian Dillon, a meteorologist at The Weather Network. “Conditions were just right for super cells to develop.”

While the damage was much less extensive on this side of the border, thunderstorms also rumbled across parts of Atlantic Canada. Large hail and powerful winds were reported in places like Edmundston and Woodstock, New Brunswick. People in Nova Scotia witnessed frequent lightning strikes. At one point, about 50,000 people were left without electricity in that province.

With files from Lyndsay Morrison

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