Jul 12, 2013
12:32 PMThe Connecticut Story
Tornadoes in Connecticut: Consistently Inconsistent
Recently, the National Weather Service confirmed that an EF-1 tornado touched down in Coventry on Wednesday, July 10, part of a powerful storm that knocked down trees and power lines, damaged a few homes but fortunately resulted in no major injuries. It is the fouth tornado to strike the state this year since July 1.
To some, four tornadoes in such a short stretch may seem like a lot, especially for a state like Connecticut, which is not anywhere near the Midwest's Tornado Alley and has not been known historically as a place conducive to producing a high number of tornadoes in any given season. In short, Connecticut is not a mecca for storm chasers.
Still, the state has had its share of tornadoes, and there doesn't seem to be any particular pattern to the frequency at which they occur. According to the Tornado Project, there were none last year and only one in 2011; 2010, however, was a busy year, including an EF-1 that touched down in Bridgeport in June that did extensive damage (including $15 million in harm to the Barnum Museum) and the four small tornadoes that hit on July 21 in Bristol, Litchfield, Thomaston and Terryville, all a result of a severe storm cell passing through the region.
Looking further back over the long haul, that inconsistency seems to be consistent—stretches of years with no tornadoes mixed in with spates of high activity. One of the years with the highest activity was 1973, which saw at least six different tornadoes.
In general, most of the tornadoes that do strike here are not particularly powerful or sustained, unlike those which seem to plague the Midwest; in fact, there have only been four documented deaths due to tornandoes in Connecticut since 1950. Most of the tornadoes here seem to possess enough strength to damage trees, power lines and roofs, but not obliterate towns.
Of course, there has been some particularly memorable and destructive storms, including the F4 tornado that struck Hamden in July 1989, which packed winds in excess of 200 mph that cut a five-mile swath of devastation and injured 40 people. Others may recall the freak F4 tornado that struck Windsor Locks in October 1979 which killed three, essentially flattened Bradley Airport and caused over $200 million in damage. Fortunately, those kinds of events seem to be few and far between.
Finally, the good news is that although we've experienced numerous tornadoes, Connecticut has yet to be struck by a SharkNado. So there's that.