National Weather Service confirms tornado touch down in Dalton

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DALTON -- A low-end tornado touched down in Dalton on Sunday afternoon, cutting a 20-yard path through Greenridge Park and Greenridge Drive before dissipating behind homes on Lindsay Drive, the National Weather Service in Albany, N.Y., said Tuesday.

NWS warning coordinator meteorologist Steve DiRienzo issued his findings after touring the area Tuesday morning with Dalton Fire Chief Gerry Cahalan.

The tornado was ranked as an EF-1 on the National Weather Service's rating scale, which evaluates twisters based on their estimated wind speed and damage.

Top winds for EF-1 tornadoes can range from 86 to 111 miles per hour.

In his official public information statement, DiRienzo reported that the tornado touched down at 4:55 p.m. Sunday with an estimated maximum wind speed of 90 mph along a path 20 yards wide.

What DiRienzo described as a "short-lived tornado" touched down in Greenridge Park along South Street, moved southeast up a hill and dissipated behind homes along Lindsay Drive.

"The tornado almost completely clear-cut a path through the forest, leaving a noticeable trail," he stated. But most of the damage in the subdivisions to the north, west and southwest of the tornado track was caused by a microburst -- straight line winds that downed hardwood and softwood trees, the report continued.

One house, at 60 Norwich Drive, was affected by the twister. According to homeowner Jackie Wood, the wind lifted the roof off the house, while a tree smashed through the back of the home, broke windows, shifted the chimney, and ripped vents and siding off the house.

"The area affected by the microburst was large and bounded by Richard Drive and Hubbard Avenue to the north, and Lindsay Drive, Pleasantview Drive and Hubbard Avenue to the south," DiRienzo stated.

Cahalan said he was not surprised by the NWS' findings based on his previous experience with tornado damage in Great Barrington on Memorial Day weekend 1995; in Monson near Springfield three years ago; and from when he lived along "tornado alley" in Texas.

He cited several telltale signs -- leaves sticking on four sides of a house -- which occurred at a home on Lindsay Drive, and trees found lying in non-conforming directions. A boat and a shed at a Lindsay Drive residence were also damaged, likely by the tornado, Cahalan said.

"Being involved in tornadoes before, it did not look like straight-line winds," the fire chief added.

DiRienzo's visit was arranged by Patrick Carnevale, the western regional director for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, based on contact from Cahalan.

MEMA and the Dalton Select Board have been notified of the weather service's findings, said Cahalan. Any effort to recoup cleanup costs from the state will be up to the town's top officials to decide, he noted.

To contact Clarence Fanto:
or (413) 637-2551.
On Twitter: @BE_cfanto


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