Five tornadoes touched down Friday in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, reaching speeds of up to 115 miles per hour and leaving damaged property and downed trees in their wake, the National Weather Service said Monday.
Forecasters said the twisters hit Scotland, Conn.; North Attleborough, Mansfield, Weymouth, and Stoughton in Massachusetts; and the Rhode Island communities of Scituate, Johnston, and North Providence.
In Scotland, Conn., a storm cell produced a tornado that hit an estimated peak wind of 100 miles per hour, touching down at 7:53 a.m. and causing damage for six minutes over a 2.7-mile path, the weather service said.
A separate storm cell with more power delivered the other four tornadoes that hit Rhode Island and Massachusetts, said Torry Dooley, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Norton. The tornado in Rhode Island was measured as an EF-2, the strongest to hit southern New England since the twister that tore through Revere in the summer of 2014.
Dooley said the conditions preceding the storms were “ripe” to produce tornadoes across Eastern Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Southeastern Massachusetts on Friday.
“You need some type of lift, you need some instability, which is like fuel for the storm, and you need changing wind directions,” he said. “We had all three.”
As the storm moved across the region, it would gain strength and produce a tornado, which would pull energy from the storm before dissipating and starting the cycle again, Dooley said.
The tornado in Scotland left only a couple of homes with gutter damage but caused significant tree damage, with more than 100 either brought down or sheared at the top, the weather service said.
Later in Rhode Island, a tornado touched down in Scituate at 8:40 a.m. and also hit Johnston and North Providence. It was the state’s strongest tornado since an F-2 hit Cranston and Providence on Aug. 7, 1986, forecasters said.
The worst damage was on Byron Randall Road in Scituate, where the twister first touched down.
“There were hundreds of large trees either uprooted or snapped at their bases,” said forecasters. “One home sustained damage to its roof, the top of its chimney was blown off, windows were blown in, and an exterior door was dislodged from its framing.”
The tornado later progressed to Johnston, where it crossed onto Interstate 295 and lifted a vehicle before dropping it back onto the road, leaving the driver with minor injuries.
“From there, the tornado moved across Bridle Way and Carriage Way where a number of trees were snapped or uprooted, some of which fell onto homes or vehicles,” the statement said.
The tornado also damaged Highland Memorial Park Cemetery in Johnston, where several large trees either snapped or became uprooted, before moving on to its last stop in Rhode Island: North Providence.
“Similar to Johnston, a number of trees were either snapped or uprooted, some falling onto homes or vehicles,” the statement said.
The Rhode Island tornado traveled 9.1 miles and had an estimated peak wind of 115 miles per hour, forecasters said.
[2/3] In addition, we can confirm the RI tornado was on the ground for 9.1mi (discontinuous path) and had a maximum width of 250 yards in Scituate. More information on the tornadoes that impacted North Attleborough/Mansfield, Stoughton, and Weymouth can be seen below #MAwx #RIwx pic.twitter.com/ZOT7mw4aBQ— NWS Boston (@NWSBoston) August 21, 2023
Another twister hit North Attleborough at 9:07 a.m., with an estimated peak wind speed of 90 miles per hour, forecasters said. At 9:22 a.m. that tornado’s destructive path ended in Mansfield.
“Many trees were snapped or uprooted on Mendon Road near the intersection of Monticello Drive” in North Attleborough, the weather service said.
Forecasters said the subsequent damage was more sporadic.
“A home on Mary Ann Way [in North Attleborough] had its third floor window blown in,” the statement said. “Additionally, there were a number of downed or snapped trees on Lisa Drive.”
In addition, forecasters said, an air conditioning unit weighing approximately half a ton was knocked over on the roof of a one-story commercial building.
“The damage observed in North Attleborough and Mansfield was consistent with winds of 80 to 90 mph which is classified as EF-1,” the statement said.
In Stoughton, officials said, a tornado with a peak wind speed of 80 miles per hour touched down at 9:37 a.m. and stopped two minutes later, with a path of roughly 0.1 miles.
“Sporadic damage along a short path included fallen trees, one of which fell onto a shed,” the statement said. “The damage observed was consistent with winds of 70 to 80 mph which is classified as EF-0.”
The Weymouth tornado, touched down at 9:52 a.m. at Pleasant and Torrey streets, charting a 0.35-mile path over a three-minute stretch, with an estimated peak wind of 110 miles per hour, according to the weather service.
“Numerous trees were uprooted and snapped,” the statement said. “A home at the intersection of Burton Terrace and Torrey Street had about twenty singles torn from its roof. On Park Avenue, a three-inch diameter branch from a treetop was blown about 120 yards and driven into the ground to a depth of 2 feet.”
One terrified eyewitness reported that she saw the tornado lift a water tower near Lockewoods Drive.
Globe correspondent Nick Stoico contributed to this report.
Travis Andersen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.