Tornado Watches, Warnings And Your Questions

By Terry Eliasen, Meteorologist, WBZ-TV Exec. Weather Producer

BOSTON (CBS) – Several tornadoes touched down in Massachusetts on Wednesday as a bout of severe weather rolled through the area.


Several tornadoes touched down in Massachusetts on Wednesday. Extensive damage was reported from a twister in Springfield, and tornadoes also hit Westfield, Wilbraham, Sturbridge, Monson, Oxford and Agawam.

READ: More on the tornado touchdowns


A tornado watch has been issued by the National Weather Service for most of New England, excluding southeastern Mass until 8 p.m.

A tornado watch means that atmospheric conditions are ripe for tornadic development. It does NOT mean that any tornadoes are imminent. If that were the case a tornado warning would be issued.

MASSACHUSETTS TORNADO FACTS (prior to June 1, 2011):

Massachusetts has had 155 tornadoes since January 1950 (61 years). That comes to 2.5 a year. In the last 10 years the state has had 9 tornadoes. The last confirmed tornado was the Narragansett Bay Tornadic Waterspout (a bonafide tornado complete with rotation in the thunderstorm) that moved ashore near Warren and Bristol RI and then moved into South Swansea before lifting. That was an EF1. That last tornado was July 23 2008.

Related: What To Do In A Tornado


The best chance of severe weather today will be between 4-8 p.m. from Boston to Providence and areas north and west. Any storms that develop may contain heavy downpours, frequent and dangerous lightning, large hail and isolated tornadoes.

We would like to open up this forum for any questions you may have in the comments section below.  We will continue to update this blog as well as our WBZ Twitter and Facebook accounts.

We would also encourage you to send any pictures or video to us, you can email them to

Stay safe!

  • rainshine

    Shouldn’t rhe southerly winds coming off the cooler water at this time of year cut down on the severity of the storms as they come east? I seem to recall in the past that usually once storms got past Worcester the south winds would cut down the storms. Or are there other factors going on here.

    • Dave H

      I bet that’s why southeastern MA is not in the watch box. There is a stabilizing effect caused the marine component to the wind in those areas.

      • Jason

        What are the chances of these things breaking apart inside of 495?

  • Sharon

    My car is parked in West Newton and I will get to it at around 5:30. What are the chances that it will get destroyed by hail/strong winds?


    • al

      Sharon- you’re car is toast. by 5:30 it’s gonna look like the surface of the moon.

    • Matt

      Your car will be fine. Al is just a jerk.

  • al

    Sharon- you’re car is toast. by 5:30 it’s gonna look like the surface of the moon.

  • Bob P

    Ok Question in the midwest they have a comprehensive warning system to notify the public about a tornado warning. What do we have in massachusetts and new england.

  • Old Salty

    the NWS monitors the dopplar radar. By examining the radar echos, they
    can determine that a tornado has formed or is likely to form and will issue
    a warning.

    • Bob P

      No what I mean is in the midwest they have horns located all over the place and when a tornado is about to hit those horns sound and everyone takes cover. I have never heard a mass horn notification system here in Massachusetts.

  • john F

    Bob P.Your question is good!! Most towns in the 495/95 area have done away with Fire House sirens or horns.

    • coach23

      Carlisle has one.

  • Old Salty

    They have a squadron of severe weather spotters who would report
    a tornado on the ground and again the NWS would issue the warning.

    Certainly, there are no sirens like in the Midwest.

  • Lesa

    why are you beating a dead horse??your over exxagerating your reports just to be on air..youve explained whats going on..whyyyy are you still on? those that it does affect are prolly not even watching you if the went in basement like you told them your banner thing across the bottom..but really..GET OFF THE TV with all these interruptions

    • matt

      Afraid you’re missing Judge Judy?

    • Veronica

      Some of us were in the basements, with wireless laptops running on battery power, following coverage. SHAME ON YOU for being a selfish twink. Their coverage saved lives in my town. If you had been in the path of the tornado, you wouldn’t think it was a useless “interruption”.

  • weatherwatcher

    abc40 has video of a tornado going through downtown sprinfield , ma. Live video around 4:30 of a funnel cloud and debrie in the air.

  • Sherri

    Leominster has horns – they sounded about a half hour ago.

  • Weatherwatcher

    Overturned tractor trailer in springfield on memorial bridge. Sitting in Oxford looks like the back end of the hook will be here in about an hour. Looks very well defined.

  • AnnoyedFan

    Todd is the absolute WORST weatherman I have seen in years. There is no need for his over-dramatic ways right now. Give us the weather, keep us updated but do not cause panic as if we are all doomed and going to die.

  • Ken

    Just heard confirmation of a tornado touching down in either Westfield or West Springfield. I go to university out there (not there now), so wonder if anyone else heard this?

    • Ken

      ha wow. yeah just seen in and read above comments. Crazy. Here’s hoping no one get’s anything TOO serious.

  • BOB G


  • torcon4

    Confirmed tornado in Sturbridge, MA

  • Kate

    hey, im in the 01752 area and it just started to rain. is there any iminent danger headed this way? im in a mobil-home with my grandma so yeah…

  • aqua

    Would like to hear from topkatt or baileyman on this one. go Bruins

  • Italo

    I knock the weather guyz sometimes, I’ll admit–but IMHO, there is no overdramatizing when it comes to reporting on tornado warnings and tornadoes on the ground/funnel clouds–these things move, change and threaten minute by minute. And if we have the technology now to track them constantly, why not put it out there on the air? We’d all surely wish that was the case if we ever found ourselves, like many in the Midwest have, sitting inside a solid familiar office or living room one minute, and badly injured and flattened with debris around and over us the very next.. Everybody stay safe this afternoon, and thanks mets for your diligent work following and reporting on all this!

    • AnnoyedFan

      I completely agree with you on your comment. It is wonderful that we have the technology that we do now so that we can be prepared. I’m thankful for the news stations keeping us well informed. My issue is when the tornado has not yet been confirmed and we have Todd basically stating we are all going to die if we do not get inside. I understand how important it is to warn people to stay indoors, get low and avoid windows. However, there is a complete difference between preparing people and causing panic, and earlier Todd was simply causing panic with his over the top act. He seemed to have calmed down now and is providing great information.

    • Italo

      Some of the other stations’ mets don’t mention that even though whatever tornado-related severe weather to the west of us here in Boston might not necessarily hit us eventually, we still are under a Tornado Watch until 8 pm here, and something new could separately develop severe over or near us, and that’s important to stay alert to remembering as well.

    • carolyn

      Got a call from a family member to let me know another family member lives in a town where a tornado touched down. No way to reach them. This is definitely the time for the weather folks to be on. I have no problems stating when they are over reacting, but this is NOT one of them. This info is important.

      • shotime

        Carol, I couldn’t agree with you more! I had no problem with Todd’s forecasting skills and his presentation. This has been a very severe situation today, and people needed to be warned! I thought Todd did a great job doing just that as I’m sure folks in the path of the storms would agree.

  • coach23

    Family lives in town that was hit and can’t reach them to see if they are safe. Thinking good thoughts, but they keep mentioning their town on the news as having had a tornado touch down.

    So all those experts here that said severe weather index was low were definitely not even close today.

  • Greg Marmai

    I thought tornado’s only formed over flat land. Isn’t Springfield/Worcester hilly?

  • Bob P

    Most weather functions server a purpose including floods, fire ect. Do tornados have any positive effect on the earth?

  • tiffany

    I remember in the 50’s Worcester had a terrible tornado–very rare, and people were really surprised.

    I now live in the South where tornados are constantly a threat. Be safe and keep your eye to the sky.

  • Erin

    It is incredibly irresponsible to be giving exact addresses and alleged reports of injuries in homes. I was watching you all afternoon/evening for coverage but have changed the channel since your clearly unexperienced reporter in Springfield started giving this information. Please leave the irresponsible and sensationalist “journalism” to Fox.

    • Italo

      It’s not irresponsible. Tornado paths and destruction can literally change, go, and drop down or up between one side of a street, town, or highway, and the other. Better safe than sorry, and I’m sure the people who experience this type of tornadic weather — and at even higher severity — on a regular basis would probably agree.

      • Italo

        I understand and respect where what you say is coming from–but I think it’s being a little bit too “PC” when we’re in the middle of a tornado touchdown that causes destruction. What if the allegedly identified and injured people had nobody who otherwise knew them, or otherwise didn’t know they were hurt and couldn’t get to them? I’d rather be safe in the sense of severe weather big-picture rescuing, than sorry in not following up to check on people who may have been hurt by a twister.

      • Erin

        When the tornado came through 30-60 minutes ago, I don’t know how you can argue that this is helpful information. I’m also not sure how the EXACT street address of a home that was affected and the “possible” woman and child trapped inside is useful (and not sensationalist) information for the public. Imagine being the family of the people at that address (assuming it’s even correct information!) I’m not arguing that the tornado tracking isn’t crucial (I believe it is, or else I wouldn’t have been following it all early evening) but this specific information is not relevant and yes, irresponsible.

  • Italo

    Holy hell–here in Revere, just looked out the window and above us the clouds are in the form of — all I can say, is — looking up the bottoms of eggs or like a bunch of dinner rolls…what the heck does that mean?!?

    • coach23

      Fox 25 just explained what it was. It is NOT a tornado. It is caused by the atmospheric turbulence.

      • Italo

        Thanks, coach23! What a strange sight to look up and see, wondered if anybody else here may have been in area and viewed it too. I was thinking it could be turbulence, as well–just was afraid of what was inside the cloud causing the turbulence! ;-o Hoping you and yours are doing as ok as possible where you’re all at.

  • NancyB

    tiffany – I remeber the tornado in Worcester. It was in June, 1953. I was living at home in Natick. It was a very hot day and there was a storm. Would you believe a necktie blew in from the Worcester tornado and hung on the top of one of our maple trees. Also, there were shingles and some debris. I also live in the South now and we are always watching the weather…

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