fb-pixelTornado in North Brookfield MA arrived on Sunday with heavy rains Skip to main content

Tornado touched down in North Brookfield on Sunday, as torrential rains pounded Massachusetts

Severe weather triggered thunderstorm and tornado warnings across the state

Jessica Malave stood under an umbrella during a rainstorm along Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge Sunday.Vincent Alban For The Boston Globe

Severe weather battered the state Sunday, as a tornado touched down in North Brookfield and powerful thunderstorms dumped inches of rain in some areas, flooding streets and farms already saturated from past downpours.

The tornado struck North Brookfield just before 11 a.m. The damage was limited to trees and no injuries were reported.

The National Weather Service confirmed that the tornado was an “EF-0″ tornado, the lowest category on the Enhanced Fujita Scale with winds between 65 and 85 miles per hour.

In Fitchburg, images of floodwater gushing down roadways were posted on social media. And for the state’s farms — which had also suffered damaging deep freezes earlier this year — the heavy rains made matters worse.

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Brittany Terry, the farm manager at Natural Roots Farm in Conway, said the storms have caused an estimated $100,000 in losses, plus tens of thousands more in cleanup and repair costs.

“It’s completely catastrophic to our business this year,” Terry said. “A lot of the things that we had in the ground were lost, there’s absolutely no way for us to even try to replant them.”

The volatile weather was part of storm activity that soaked the East Coast — from Washington D.C. to Maine, as well as parts of New York and Pennsylvania — with heavy rain and spurred flash flood warnings, according to the weather service.

A tornado watch was in place for most of Massachusetts on Sunday until to 3 p.m. At one point during the morning, more than 3,300 customers lost power, according to the state’s emergency management agency. There were about 970 outages by late Sunday night.

Last week, storms damaged scores of farms in Western Massachusetts, ruining crops, washing out roads, and leaving some spots inaccessible due to standing water.

In a statement, Senator Elizabeth Warren said more must be done to support the farms damaged by the severe weather.

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“I’m deeply concerned about both the immediate crop loss and also the long-term impact, and working with state and federal officials to explore recovery resources,” she said.

At least 75 farms have been affected by the storms, with more than 1,000 acres of crop losses, according to the state Department of Agricultural Resources.

Karissa Hand, a spokesperson for Governor Maura Healey, said Healey and Driscoll are concerned about the damage farms have sustained.

“We have been in constant contact with farms, other institutions in our local food supply chain, and local officials, with several members of our administration visiting impacted farms over the past week,” Hand said. “We are continuing to assess the scale of the ongoing damage and working closely with our federal partners to identify badly needed funding assistance that may be available.”

Healey toured storm damage in western Massachusetts on Wednesday and is expected to visit farms affected by the storm again this week, according to her office. The state has set up a website for people and businesses seeking help to recover from this month’s storm activity.

Philip Korman, executive director of Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture, which works with about 250 farms in central and western Massachusetts, said farms are facing weather changes that are increasingly harder to predict.

“It seems pretty obvious that weather patterns have changed dramatically, and we don’t yet know what that new pattern is,” Korman said. “This seemed to come without warning. Farmers had no real opportunity to protect crops.”

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He said state and federal governments must do more to help farms, including launching a dedicated disaster relief fund to support them now and during future crises.

The forecast for the coming week in Western Massachusetts indicates more wet weather.

While no rain is anticipated Monday, forecasters predict rainfall on Tuesday. Showers and thunderstorms will likely roll in during the afternoon, and more storms could arrive during the evening.

After a respite from rain Wednesday, there is a chance of showers Thursday during the day and evening. Thunderstorms are likely on Friday, forecasters said.

Terry, with the Conway farm, said they’ve launched a GoFundMe to raise $85,000, which is needed to cover losses and the cost of repairs.

Last week’s storms washed out a road, toppled trees, and flooded fields, she said. Even if produce wasn’t carried away by the flooding, the contaminated water means that those plantings can’t be used for food.

“We’re not able to harvest any of it, and it’s just so heartbreaking,” she said. “This type of flooding is like a once-in-100-year event and now it has happened twice in the last few decades with [Tropical Storm] Irene and now... it’s scary.”

Emily Sweeney of the Globe staff and Globe correspondents Bailey Allen and Nick Stoico contributed to this report.


John Hilliard can be reached at john.hilliard@globe.com.