What to Know
National Weather Service has confirmed a tornado touched down in Webster, Mass. earlier Saturday.
Tornado warnings for Worcester and Middlesex counties were in effect Saturday morning; they expired at 10:45 a.m.
Webster Deputy Police Chief says there has been one minor injury so far, adds majority of town is without power.
A tornado touched down Saturday in Webster, Massachusetts, causing significant damage. Trees are down and roofs were ripped from buildings, according to multiple reports.
The National Weather Service confirmed the tornado early Saturday afternoon but said they are still continuing to survey the damage, adding in a tweet that it will “take quite some time” to determine strength and path-length of the tornado.
The tornado warning expired at 10:45 a.m. after being in effect Saturday morning for Worcester and Middlesex counties.
There is confirmed building damage in Webster, according to a tweet from the Uxbridge Fire Department.
Images show part of a roof that was ripped off of a Webster building.
“In Dudley, the main impacted locations include the Schofield Ave, Chase Ave, Central Ave, Cross Street, and West Main Street near the Webster line,” Dudley Police Chief Steve Wojnar said in a statement. “There are power outages and numerous roads, including much of Webster’s South Main Street, blocked by debris and trees. Several are Impassable. Non-emergency vehicle and pedestrian traffic are asked to stay out of the area, especially due to downed power lines.”
Tia Durand-Paradis, of Southbridge, was in downtown Webster for a ribbon cutting ceremony when the tornado touched down. She described what she witnessed as the storm came through.
“The whole sky changed…it was just like sideways rain, and the windows kind of started rattling so everyone kind of made their way downstairs…by total luck the backdoor blew open which I think saved all of the windows from smashing, but the next store over, the costume shop, blew out every window that’s in the place, and just a few doors down I guess took the roof right off the building, so it was pretty intense,” she said.
Durand-Paradis added that they were concerned because the Main Street buildings have all glass fronts.
“We were just focused on the glass not coming in at us,” she said. “Looking out at it, the only way I can explain it is if you were to stand in an automatic car wash, like it was just torrential downpour, and sideway winds and things just literally blowing by.”
Durand-Paradis said she has never witnessed anything like it, adding it was pretty scary to experience.
Main Street at the Webster-Dudley line is shut down due to damage from the tornado.
Webster Deputy Police Chief Michael Shaw tells NBC10 Boston that they have cleanup crews and utilities on the ground.
“We are running through with MEMA, and we have the Red Cross on scene, obviously the fire department and EMS, everyone is working,” he said.
Shaw said there has been one minor injury but they are making sure everybody else who was affected by the event has been accounted for and is okay.
“It was a woman who was traveling on Main Street and a piece of debris hit her car and caused a minor injury. She was transported to the hospital but believe she is going to be okay,” he said.
The deputy chief, who was in Worcester at the time the tornado touched down, added that the damage is pretty good in size, and that Main Street in Webster took the brunt of the damage.
“We’ve got several buildings that were affected, a couple of them were vacant. We do have some buildings that are contained apartments that unfortunately had to have residents evacuated,” Shaw said. “Our building inspector is checking to make sure that those are OK in case they are able to go back into them. If not, we have opened an emergency shelter. But we’ve got a lot of debris down, telephone poles snapping. From what I’m being told, the majority of the town is without power, so we’re taking precautions. We have National Grid on scene, both gas and electric, making sure that we can try to resolve that situation as soon as possible.”
Shaw said everything happened pretty quickly, and while images do show the damage, seeing it in person “doesn’t prepare you when it’s your community.”
“We have a very dense downtown with a lot of buildings, and it could have been a lot, lot worse. And fortunately it wasn’t.”
On Pleasant Street in Webster, an electrical pole snapped in half. As of 1:00 p.m., more than 5,100 Worcester and Essex County residents are without power. National Grid is on scene.
“It took the whole roof off,” the woman said. “We have trees down, everything. It’s our business, and it’s destroyed. We lost everything over there.”
The woman said she was at the store when it touched down.
“Thank God we weren’t here, we probably would have been gone with it,” she said.
The business woman said she witnessed a lot of damage, including at stores like CVS and gas stations. She added it will take time to rebuild everything.
The National Weather Service – Boston said in a tweet that they are aware of the damage to the Webster area and that they will continue to monitor.
The Auburn Fire Department sent ambulances to Webster for station coverage, as Webster is backed up on multiple calls for both Fire and EMS.
The Southbridge Fire Department is covering Dudley, as both Dudley and Webster have received multiple calls due to the tornado.
Meteorologists from the National Weather Service conducted damage surveys in Woodstock, over to Dudley and to Webster, according to a second tweet. They made the determination that it was a tornado. NBC Boston/necn meteorologist Michael Page says it’s all about the trees when surveying damage. He says the direction the trees fall is very telling. If the trees are perpendicular to each other, it would indicate there was rotation touching down.
Although the tornado warning has expired, heavy rain is still coming and could cause flash flooding in several areas, especially urban areas of the Boston – Providence corridor. Flash flood warnings have been issued for parts of Suffolk County (Boston), Essex County, Norfolk County and Middlesex County in Massachusetts until 1:30 p.m.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.