Tornadoes are violent and rapidly rotating columns of air that form inside thunderstorms. They connect with the ground, via a funnel, to the cloud. Tornadoes typically last only a few minutes, but sometimes they can last for more than an hour. They can also travel short distances (0.5 miles), but some can be “on the ground” for upwards of 100 miles.
From 1950-2015, 163 tornadoes have been recorded in Massachusetts. While there has never been an EF-5 (winds over 200 mph) tornado recorded in the state, there have been 3 EF-4 (166 - 200 mph) and 6 EF-3 (136 - 165 mph) rated tornadoes.
The Worcester Tornado of 1953 is one of the most devastating tornadoes to impact New England. The tornado touched down near Petersham, MA on June 9, 1953, around 4:30 PM. It traveled nearly 48 miles, and hit the western suburbs of Worcester, MA, before it dissipated around Framingham, MA 90-minutes later. Over 90 people died from this strong tornado and more than 1,000 structures were destroyed, including Assumption College.