About 1,200 tornadoes strike the United States every year, and while Massachusetts lies outside the “Tornado Alley” of the midwest, we’ve experienced our share of violent twisters. The normal season for tornadoes begins in spring in the south, and peaks in June and July further north, but tornadoes can strike year round. Gathered here are images of the effects of a few powerful storms, from the 1890 tornado that struck Lawrence, to the 1973 tornado in West Stockbridge.
- Lane Turner and Lisa Tuite
Globe file photo
July 26, 1890: The tornado that swept through Lawrence hit at 9:15 a.m. and left behind it a pathway 300 feet wide, strewn for nearly a mile with the wreckage of almost a hundred houses. This is the view looking southwesterly from near the east end of Springfield Street.
Carroll Bisson Photo
June 9, 1953: Lenore Bernard of Holden assisted the salvage crew with loading a few of her remaining possessions. Her home in the Brentwood Estate section of Holden was badly damaged in the the Great Worcester Tornado. Mrs. Bernard and her daughter Nancy, 16 months old, escaped injury by huddling in the fireplace.
June 9, 1953: The Great Worcester Tornado tore through eight central Massachusetts communities. It left 94 dead, 1,300 injured and caused more than $52 million in damages. This brick apartment in Worcester was one of the destroyed homes.
Tom Landers/Globe Staff
July 21, 1972: Marguerite D'Amelio looked over debris which was her home on Sierra Road in North Chelmsford. The storm that hit Chelmsford had been sighted by radar at 4:58 in Manchester, N.H. It moved east-southeast at 20 mph and struck at 6 p.m. Area residents reported a heavy violent thunderstorm, then a period of calm before the storm's funnel, reportedly hundreds of yards wide, struck.
Bob Dean/Globe Staff
August 9, 1972: Damage to the streets in the Chestnut Hill section of Brookline followed a tornado which hit the area in the late afternoon. Most severely affected by the tornado was the Longwood Cricket Club where Cynthia Cox, 14, of Weston was killed while taking refuge at poolside in the Cricket Club.The Longwood tragedy was preceded by a 10 minute severe thunderstorm. A large clock on the stone wall of the clubhouse was stopped abruptly when the tornado struck at 4:44 pm.
R.R. Twarog/Globe file photo
August 28, 1973: Volunteers in West Stockbridge lifted debris in search of bodies after a powerful tornado stuck the area. Four people were killed and 35 injured. The estimated wind velocity at the core of the tornado was 250 mph.
August 28, 1973: An overturned tractor-trailer rig lay amidst the ruin of the Berkshire Truck Plaza in West Stockbridge after being hit by the tornado.
John Blanding/Globe Staff
August 28, 1973: "Mutley" the dog looked out from the car on the remains of the property of William G. Kie on West Center Road in West Stockbridge, which was hit by the tornado. "I heard an awful roar and I said to my daughter "Run for our lives.'" They ran to the basement where they lay beside the cellar wall. Mutley and three other dogs were buried alive and were dug out by Kie and his daughter after the tornado passed.