1995 Great Barrington tornado
|Formed||May 29, 1995|
|Max rating1||F4 tornado|
|Damage||$24 million (1995 USD)|
|Casualties||3 fatalities, 24-27 injuries|
|Areas affected||Berkshire County, Massachusetts|
|1Most severe tornado damage; see Fujita scale|
Around 3:30 in the afternoon (Eastern Daylight Time) on May 29, 1995, scattered thunderstorms developed over the Western Catskill Mountains of New York. Over the next few hours the storms moved east, only producing isolated wind and hail. One particular thunderstorm exploded into a supercell upon crossing the Hudson River Valley, due to the presence of higher dew points flowing up the valley from the south and locally enhanced low-level shear. A tornado touched down in Columbia County at 6:40 p.m., producing F2 damage. The tornado lifted off the ground twenty minutes later and the storm moved over the mountains along the New York/Massachusetts border. Shortly after crossing into Massachusetts, the storm dropped the violent Great Barrington, Massachusetts tornado.
The tornado and destruction
The tornado itself touched down around 7:06 p.m. in Great Barrington near the Walter J. Koladza Airport. Near the town line with Monterey, a car was lifted off of Route 23, and tossed 1,000 feet (305 m) into a wooded area. Over one hundred homes and businesses were either damaged or destroyed, including the grandstand at the Great Barrington Fairgrounds. Additionally, twenty-four people (or twenty-seven according to a different source) were injured.
The tornado went for a length of 11.5 miles (19 km) and eventually ended near the town of Monterey. The storm itself caused $25 million worth of damage. Three people were killed—two students and a staff member at the private Eagleton School—as they were returning to the campus in Great Barrington. The F4 rating is based entirely on the car that was thrown 1,000 feet. The worst structural damage from this tornado was in the F3 range. The rating of the tornado is sometimes disputed because of this.
- Grazulis 1997, p. 1380
- "Memorial Day Tornado of 1995". Collaborative Science, Technology, and Applied Research Program at the University of Albany. Archived from the original on 2011-07-25. Retrieved June 3, 2011.
- Lindsay, Dick (June 2, 2011). "Tornadoes can and did happen in Berkshires". The Berkshire Eagle. Retrieved June 3, 2011.
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- "Tornadoes touch down in Mass.". The Associated Press via the Record-Journal. July 4, 1997. Retrieved June 3, 2011.