It began Wednesday with a phone call from my friend Sarah: “They just said on the news that a tornado hit Springfield,” she said.
I rushed to the living room and turned on CNN just as they were reporting on a tornado hitting western Massachusetts, including my home city, Springfield.
The next couple hours were full of phone calls and emails to friends and family, beginning with those who lived near the tornado’s path.
My Aunt Cindy wasn’t home, and now couldn’t get home, but her daughters and grandchildren were.
No one was hurt, Cindy said. The tornado passed by three streets down from their house, hitting it with debris but no real damage.
Other friends were not in the direct path of the tornado, and weathered the massive storm that accompanied it.
In total, three tornadoes, an EF3 and two EF1’s, hit western Mass., with two, the EF3 and an EF1, hitting Springfield.
The rest of my night was spent following the continuing coverage of the tornadoes, the storm and their aftermath on the Springfield Republican’s web site, www.masslive.com.
I give them a lot of credit, working through the night, bringing pictures and stories of events as they unfolded.
Three people were killed by the tornadoes, and hundreds injured. Small compared to tornadoes that hit Joplin, Ala. and elsewhere, but still tragic.
One, West Springfield mother named Angelica Guerrero died shielding her teenage daughter with her body as their house collapsed around them.
The fact that the tornadoes hit in late afternoon, as many people were preparing to leave work, probably helped minimize the casualties.
Thousands were without power, as the tornadoes and storm took out power lines, and in some cases, entire power grids.
Massachusetts is hit by small tornadoes once in a while, but it is highly unusual for a tornado of that magnitude to drop down in the middle of the third-largest city in the state.
I’ve had this strange, helpless feeling, seeing images of the destruction wrought on my home city, 1,600 miles away.
My friend Patrick Knox went out and photographed some of the damage, sending me the photos.
The level of destruction, especially of places I have known since I was a child, shocked me.
For that matter, it seems the amount of destruction caused by tornadoes and storms this season has already been high, and the year isn’t half over.
As we on the Gulf Coast enter the beginning of hurricane season this month, it’s a chilling reminder that Mother Nature’s fury is unpredictable.
Nonetheless, the National Weather Service is predicting that 2011 will be an above-normal hurricane season, with 12 to 18 named storms and six to ten hurricanes, of which three to six are predicted will be Category 3 or higher.
With the year already starting off with freak tornadoes and other weather formations, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared.
Eunice News Staff Writer Jamie Anfenson-Comeau can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.