Any guesses on how many tornadoes touched down in New England last year?
One? None? Seven? Twenty?
It’s 20. You wouldn’t think it, since New England is hardly the second coming of Tornado Alley. And 20 is unusually high for New England, which averages three tornadoes per year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Storm Prediction Center. Also, last year was way down for tornadoes nationwide with 991 touchdowns, compared to the average of 1,287. The record low is 897 in 2014.
Of course, we just zipped past the one-year anniversary of a tornado that touched down in the Monadnock Region last May 4. It took the weather service about a week to confirm it, but a tornado formed near Fall Mountain Regional High School in Langdon and traveled about 35 miles before dissipating in Webster. Damage was minimal since most of it was over woodlands, but it did knock down trees and caused power outages.
In the days that followed, meteorologists traced its path and estimated its average winds between 70 and 80 mph, with a peak of 80 to 90 mph. The tornado reached maximum strength in the Warner area, meteorologist John Jensenius of the National Weather Service told The Sentinel last year. It was officially recorded as an F1 tornado (winds between 73 and 112 mph) on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, which rates them in strength from 1 to 5, the latter being the strongest.
All 20 tornadoes that touched down in New England last year were F1s, and nine of them occurred in Connecticut. Three touched down in New Hampshire, seven in Massachusetts and one in Rhode Island. None were recorded in Vermont or Maine. Unlike the one here last May, most of them were on the ground for only minutes.
There’s no danger of tornadoes or any severe weather over the next few days, as the front that’s dogged us for a couple of weeks will keep things generally cool and unsettled. Saturday looks like the best of the lot, with some sun and temperatures in the low 60s. We may squeeze out a cloudy but cool Mother’s Day, not bad considering a few days ago it looked rather rainy.
But it’s back to cold soup Monday: rain and temperatures in the low 50s.
Then more clouds and drizzle Tuesday and Wednesday; Tuesday may not get out of the 40s. Thursday and Friday could also see showers. Clearly, this frontal boundary has an affinity for New England, because it doesn’t want to leave the area. It must not be partial to, say, Washington, D.C. because much of this week will be 70 and sunny there.