A Haunting Tragedy Is STILL In The Minds Of Berkshire Residents
This year, Memorial Day will be observed on Monday, May 29th. Ironically, it was on the same day and date where Mother Nature gave portions of our tri-state region the scare of their lives back in 1995. On that particular day, we felt oppressive humidity and summer like temperatures in the 80's, but the early evening hours proved to be a true attention getter.
In the early evening, a strong line of thunderstorms from The Empire State's western Catskill mountains was making it's way in our backyard accompanied by an excessive amount of wind and hail. Portions of New York's Hudson Valley experienced massive amounts of rain and heavy thunderstorms as reports confirmed that an active F-2 tornado entered Columbia county and the path of this horrific storm was heading east toward the Massachusetts border.
After 7 pm, this intense system was elevated to F-4 status according to the Fujita scale that measure tornadoes of high capacity. When it descended into the Great Barrington area, this storm touched down on route 71 at The Walter J. Koladza Airport, The fair grounds on route 7 suffered the brunt of Mother Nature's wrath as $25 million in damages were reported and afterwards the venue was unrecognizable.
This dark day also resulted in three lost lives as 2 students and a staffer at The Eagleton School were returning to campus during the heart of this storm as their vehicle was picked up by the strong winds on route 23 at the Great Barrington-Monterey town line. Their memories remain eternal and everlasting . 25 people were also injured after the twister came to rest in Monterey leaving a swath of destruction in a 11 mile radius of Eastern New York and southern Berkshire county in Massachusetts.
On a personal note, I was out of the area and en route to Lakeville after attending a Norwich Navigators game prior to when the twister touched ground. At that time, I was living in northwestern Connecticut just 20 miles south of the storm's peak. Litchfield county was spared due to the storm's path which targeted two portions of our listening area. When I watched the 11 o'clock news on TV, this weather related tragedy led the broadcast leaving me numb as this natural disaster hit close to home. My heart became heavy as prayers went to those who lost their lives in Berkshire county.
Local residents STILL remember this tragedy and recall exactly where they were at that dark moment 28 years ago. This natural disaster impacted our listening area in more ways than one as statistics show the Great Barrington twister was one of the strongest to hit the Bay state parallel to a 1953 F-4 tornado that touched ground in the city of Worcester which resulted in 94 fatalities and also caused excessive damage to that portion of Central Massachusetts.
Statistics show a total of 34 tornadoes were documented throughout New England's recorded history with the most recent storm occurring 12 years ago on June 1st, 2011 in the heart of downtown Springfield which resulted in three fatalities, numerous injuries and massive property damage.
(Statistical information obtained in this article, courtesy of Wikipedia)
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