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Storms soaked Mass., flooded streets — and spawned at least one tornado

Tree damage in Clinton - the National Weather Service says it's possible a tornado hit the town.Gary Kolanda

Powerful storms, the remnants of Tropical Storm Fred, flooded streets and brought down trees and wires in Massachusetts Thursday. They also spawned at least one tornado, the National Weather Service said.

A storm that passed through the Central Massachusetts town of Clinton, on the northern end of the Wachusett Reservoir, spawned a confirmed tornado, the National Weather Service said late Thursday.

“We clearly saw something on the radar,” said weather service meteorologist William Babcock of the Clinton storm. Babcock as well as the weather service noted that damage reports were still coming in.

A storm that passed through Dudley, on the state’s southern border, and the neighboring town of Thompson, Connecticut, also had the hallmarks of a tornado, Babcock said.


“There was a clear signal on the radar, and we have had some confirming photos sent as well,” he said. “The photos suggest that it did reach the ground.”

Officials from Dudley, Thompson, and Clinton did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

Gary Kolanda, a trained volunteer weather observer for the weather service’s Skywarn program, said he drove to Clinton from his neighboring town of Sterling and found police had blocked off the area, workers were chainsawing fallen trees to clear the streets, and residents were wandering around taking photos.

He said residents told him they heard a loud roar and saw trees bending almost 90 degrees. He estimated at least a dozen trees had been knocked down, and said he saw damage to two houses and two cars.

Forecasters over the course of the day had warned of possible tornadoes in the Clinton area as well as the Dudley area. They also issued a third tornado warning, for coastal towns on the North Shore of Boston.

By midafternoon, the storms had mostly swept out to sea. But some showers were still passing through the state.


The torrential rains produced urban flooding and road closures in Worcester, New England’s second largest city. Between 3 and 4 inches of rain had fallen there by about 10:30 a.m., forecasters said.

Flooded areas included a Route 20 underpass where water rose above the hoods of several cars that became stranded as drivers tried unsuccessfully to push their way through, according to multiple media reports.

The city warned residents about the flooding on Twitter around 10:40 a.m. “Flash floods occurring in many areas. Use extreme caution if you must be on the roads. Watch for loose manhole covers. Never drive through puddles, turn around,’’ the city noted.

The city also said in a tweet that the Crompton Park Pool had been closed “due to flood waters from today’s storm ... until further notice. Clean up efforts are underway and more information will be released as it becomes available.”

Flooding forced the closure of the Worcester court complex in the 200 block of Main Street, according to state officials. A court system spokeswoman said the building “experienced flooding stemming from the city sewer system” but the water had been removed and the area disinfected, and the courthouse would be open Friday.

The weather service also received reports of a water spout on Webster Lake, and trees down in the town of Harvard.

In Boston’s western suburbs, emergency crews were in the process of evacuating 70 residents from a Sudbury nursing home late Thursday afternoon, after water burst through the roof, causing flooding throughout the second and first floors of the building.


Ambulances poured into the parking lot of Bear Mountain at Sudbury shortly after 2:30 p.m., evacuating residents one at a time, Sudbury Fire Chief John Whalen said. No injuries were reported, but three residents were taken to the hospital as a precaution.

Workers had begun replacing the building’s roof earlier this week, and were unable to effectively seal it off before the rains arrived, Whalen said.

People in various other Eastern Massachusetts communities, including Melrose and Peabody, posted scenes of flooding on social media.

The Newton Fire Department posted photos of a car that was swept into the water when a brook overflowed. The car drifted until hit hit a nearby bridge. The man escaped on his own, fire officials said.

Friday is expected to be dry, warmer, cloudy, and humid, forecasters said. Attention then shifts to Tropical Storm Henri, due to arrive in the Northeast on Sunday.

Travis Andersen, Emily Sweeney, and Brittany Bowker of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

John R. Ellement can be reached at john.ellement@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe. Martin Finucane can be reached at martin.finucane@globe.com. Andrew Brinker can be reached at andrew.brinker@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @andrewnbrinker.