At least seven tornadoes swept across Massachusetts on Wednesday, leaving 4 dead and dozens injured. Trees were uprooted, roofs gone and cars overturned.
On Wednesday, tornadoes were confirmed in Springfield, Wilbraham, Westfield, Monson, Brimfield, Sturbridge and Oxford. The West Springfield storm killed two, one in Springfield and another in Brimfield, according to the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency's Peter Judge.
19 small communities in central and western Massachusetts have incurred widespread damages.
The death toll was preliminary and police and firefighters were assessing the damage door to door in Springfield, a city with a population over 150,000. We are definitely analyzing the damage, the structure of the damage, the path of the damage, the width of the damage, video taken by the local community - we are looking for indication on a structural and engineering basis to determine how fast the winds were, National Weather Service meteorologist Benjamin Sipprell said, according to CBS News.
Governor Deval Patrick declared a statewide state of emergency on Wednesday night, calling up 1,000 National Guard troops. The Massachusetts Urban Search and Rescue Team was also dispatched to the tornado zone.
On Thursday, state police are warning commuters that some roads in central and western Massachusetts may still be blocked following a line of Wednesday's tornadoes. Routes 19 and 20 in Brimfield will be closed during the Thursday morning commute as search and cleanup operations continue.
In Massachusetts, the average number of tornadoes per year is around two. Between 1950 and 2011, the state experienced 155 tornadoes. The last lethal tornado in the state was in 1995. Wednesday's tornadoes were the worst outbreak in Massachusetts since 1953, when a tornado in the Worcester area killed 94 people.