BOSTON (CBS) — It was an unseasonably warm afternoon on June 1, 2011. High temperatures topped out in the 80s and 90s. Forecasts called for an approaching cold front to elevate the severe weather risk, however, no one could imagine what was in store for later that afternoon.
At 4:17 p.m., the first sightings of what would become a large, long-track tornado were seen over Westfield. The tornado briefly lifted before dropping once again over West Springfield.READ MORE: Jerry Remy 'Resting Comfortably' At Hospital After 'Experiencing Shortness Of Breath' During Red Sox Telecast Friday
With no tornado warning in effect yet, West Springfield was caught by surprise. The tornado injured many and killed two, a man in his car and a woman taking shelter in her bathtub.
Shortly after hitting West Springfield, the first Tornado Warning was issued at 4:30 p.m. Multiple tower cameras caught the tornado crossing the Connecticut River into Springfield.
At 4:38 p.m., Springfield’s South End took a direct hit. This is where the MGM Springfield Casino would later be built.
The twister continued into Wilbraham by 4:50 p.m. Here, it caused massive damage to over 200 homes and extensive deforestation.
The next town in line was Monson. Just about 5 p.m., the tornado climbed over Mount Ella and struck the heart of the town.
The First Church of Monson Congregational lost its steeple, the roof of the high school was destroyed, and many homes were damaged. The tornado left phone poles and wires on the ground along Main Street, impeding the initial emergency response.READ MORE: Massachusetts Reports 113 New COVID Cases, 2 Additional Deaths
Now, the chaos of ten years ago is a distant memory. The steeple has returned to its perch on the church as the bells ring each June 1st in remembrance. The scar on the hillside isn’t as noticeable as years past, proving that nature is healing.
Further to the east, Brimfield was in the path of the storm. At 5:05 p.m., the tornado reached its maximum width: one-half mile wide. The storm tore through the Village Green Family Campground. One woman who was stuck in her RV was killed.
The campground is unrecognizable compared to 2011. Many of the campground buildings have been rebuilt and campers have returned to the area.
The tornado then made a beeline to Sturbridge. In the middle of the commute home, around 5:20 p.m., the tornado crossed over a second major road — Interstate 84.
Some of the damage is still evident as you drive along I-84 in Sturbridge. Some trees haven’t grown back, others are still missing their bark as a constant wound from the tornado.
The tornado finally lifted in Charlton at 5:27 p.m. after being on the ground for 70 minutes. It carved a path through western Massachusetts nearly 40 miles and caused $175 million dollars of damage.MORE NEWS: Statue Of Celtics Great Bob Cousy To Be Unveiled In Worcester Friday
It would later be found to be an EF-3 tornado, the third strongest tornado on record in Massachusetts. The only tornadoes that have been stronger were the 1953 Worcester tornado and the 1995 Great Barrington tornado.