Tornado Strikes Worcester, Mass.

A high-end EF-0 tornado hit Worcester, Mass. early last night. The National Weather Service (NWS) out of Taunton, Mass. estimated that the tornado was on the ground from about 8:10 to 8:14 p.m. local time. The radar scan at 8:11 p.m. was the most impressive. It was tough to predict/warn the tornado, as the first sign of rotation came up at 8:05 p.m., but by the 8:15 p.m. scan, rotation was quickly weakening. It was also dark by this time, so it would be nearly impossible to gather any visual observations that a tornado could be about to touchdown.

Estimated peak winds with the tornado were about 85 miles per hour and the tornado track was determined to be 1.7 miles long. Most of the damage was caused by downed trees and branches.

When looking at the severe weather parameters that were in place, what stood out to me the most was low-level helicity. The 00z OKX sounding (near the time of the tornado touchdown) sampled 180 m2/s2 0-1km helicity, which is significant and certainly high enough to raise a red flag for a tornado potential. There was also 47 knots of shear over OKX. Based on mesoanalysis data, there were similar values of shear and helicity over the Worcester area as well.
NWS statement about the tornado:

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Quincy is a meteorologist and storm chaser who travels around the country documenting and researching severe weather. He has on-air experience with stations such as WTNH-TV in New Haven, CT and WREX-TV in Rockford, IL. He was most recently a digital meteorologist for After achieving his B.S. degree in Meteorology at Western Connecticut State University (WCSU) in 2009, he returned as a University Assistant to help produce weather broadcasts. He also gave guest lectures and worked on website design. He has over nine years of professional weather forecasting experience and his forecasts have been featured in newspapers and on radio stations in multiple states.

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