Tornado – Springfield, MA

Photo blog day 291, June 1, 2011

I’m not exactly sure where to start. I know I missed a day posting an image and had planned to post the image that I actually took on Tuesday. But then it happened. In very rare circumstance we were hit with a tornado in Western MA. Because of how things went down I don’t think I am capable of writing about something that happened before the tornado. It feels, well I don’t know how it feels, just not right for me. So I am going to pick up from Wednesday June 1, 2o11 when I experienced the most emotions in one day ever in my life except for when I gave birth to my children.

I’m going to share my story of that day with you here.

It was 4:25 p.m. and I was at my desk working on a letter. My husband sent me a message and asked if I would be able to pick up the kids from their respective childcare locations. I responded yes and packed my things to head home. I made a pit stop in our lunchroom to pick up some food from the fridge when I saw an ominous black cloud. Churning and churning. I have never seen anything like it in my life, except in Ghostbusters. I sent my husband a message back and said “I am NOT going out there.” I went up one floor to get a better look at the storm. I took out my camera and took some pictures and video [click here to see my FB album and here to see the video on You Tube]. Directly in the center of this image you can see where the tornado started forming. It touched down moments after this photo.

As we watched the churning clouds turned into a tornado right before my eyes. It came down the river ripping tree tops down and as it neared the Memorial Bridge I swear it looked right at Downtown. This tornado surely set its sights on Springfield and just like that changed course. It headed straight across the river tearing up the bike path I had strolled on only hours before. And kept going. As we realized this we ran to safety in our emergency exit stairwell. I was on the 17th floor and knew we wouldn’t get all the way down before it hit. Luckily it grazed the side of our building but took out 200 year old trees in Court Square. After that the devastation continued. Through Springfield, Wilbraham and Monson. It continued on to Worcester and Boston before heading out to sea but I am not sure what damage occurred after Monson.

We had no idea the expanse of the damage until we went back outside. What we saw took us by surprise. We live in Western MA and we are fairly insulated from severe weather. Tornados are extremely rare. Hurricanes a bit more common but for the most part the worse we have is a bit of hail and high winds. We are not equipped emotionally for this. All I could think of was that my children were not safe. From there panic and fear like I have never felt set in. I called my husband who had just picked up our daughter and was on his way to get our son. As he described the conditions in Hampden the fear and panic took hold. I lost the call and wasn’t able to reach him again for 15 minutes. In the scope of things 15 minutes is not all that long. But the destruction this tornado caused took only minutes.

We were ordered to evacuate yet when we reached our cars emergency notifications on the radio warned us to seek shelter immediately and not to drive. I was finally able to reach the highway and detour south to CT. Then take the backroads home.

I am so fortunate to have escaped injury and damage from this tornado but there are many who were not so fortunate. My heart goes out to them during this time and I ask all of you to send every possible positive thoughts and prayers to the folks of Western MA, and MO, and Japan, and every where else natural disaster has struck.


5 comments on “Tornado – Springfield, MA”

  1. Scary! Glad you and your family are okay.

  2. So glad you are safe and sound! The pictures and video are just unbelievable. I don’t think I have ever seen something like this so close. You sounded terrified. My heart was pumping just watching…I can only imagine being there in person. Take care and know our prayers are with you and your town.

  3. A terribly beautiful photo of nature’s awesome power.

  4. So, so glad that you and your family are safe. Powerful photo.

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