South County lashed by storms; no tornado reported, despite warning


High winds knocked down trees and power lines in South County on Tuesday afternoon as a powerful line of storms -- and the threat of a tornado -- roared across the border from New York state.

While the region was under a tornado warning because of the potential that one could form, weather forecasters stressed that no tornadoes were reported.

"There was no confirmation of a tornado at all," said Brian Montgomery, a senior forecaster at the National Weather Service in Albany, N.Y. "We've had multiple phone calls from spotters, fire departments and police departments, and there have been no tornadoes reported."

The warning was issued about 5 p.m. after rotation was seen on the weather service's Doppler radar, in addition to reports of weather-related debris from a a severe-weather spotter in Copake, N.Y.

"Not all tornado warnings produce tornadoes; they may just produce a lot of wind or hail," Montgomery said. "In this case, it was the wind and hail that was a primary threat."

Winds strong enough to down power lines and at least 10 trees closed down Route 71 in Alford at about 5 p.m., according to county dispatchers and weather officials. It was unknown when Route 71 would re-open.

One-inch hail was reported in Windsor around 9 p.m., around the same time lightning and rain moved into Pittsfield.

About 560 National Grid customers lost power Tuesday night, according to the utility's website. Scattered power outages were also reported in Alford and Pittsfield, according to the National Grid and Western Massachusetts Electric Company websites.

Montgomery said the radar technology doesn't detail what is happening on the ground. That's where trained weather spotters come in.

"[The tornado warning] would have been worded much differently had we received confirmation from our trained spotters."

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