Special Report- June 1, 2011 From A Meteorologist's Perspective
|YouTube screenshot of twister in downtown Springfield MA|
It has been 6 years since the devastating June 1, 2011, severe weather outbreak that left parts of the region in ruin. The twister left a physical scar that can be seen in winter time, even years after the event.
|NOAA GOES_East visible satellite 2/18/2015 (image Sean Breslin, The Weather Channel)|
May 30, 2011
The Storm Prediction Center (SPC) in Norman, OK first highlighted the potential for severe weather on June 1, 2011, two days ahead of time when they put most of the northeast in a "slight" risk in their 3-day convective outlook. A wise and clever individual would say 6/1 is 2 days after 5/30, not 3. You would be correct but the SPC Day 1 Outlook is valid from 8 AM that day until 8 AM the next. So the 5/30/11 day 1 outlook is for 5/30/11 8 AM until 5/31/11 8 AM. Day 2 is 5/31/11 8 AM until 6/1/11 8 AM etc.
|SPC Day 3 convective outlook. Issued 5/30/2011 for 6/1/2011|
The National Weather Service in Taunton (NWS BOX) issued its evening forecast discussion. The forecaster's note the potential for severe weather thanks to an approaching cold front that is forecast to move through Southern New England (SNE) during the late afternoon. This will pair the frontal passage with peak heating, thus elevating the potential for severe weather. Despite some favorable parameter's such as wind shear, the forecaster's also noted the potential for high pressure offshore to limit thunderstorm growth and limit the overall severe weather threat.
The Day 2 Convective Outlook continues to advertise the potential for severe thunderstorms in the northeast.
|SPC Day 2 convective outlook issued 5/31/11 for 6/1/2011|
The NWS BOX forecast is still unsure about how widespread the severe weather threat will be on 6/1. The forecaster notes the best dynamics will be in Northern New England closer to the parent cyclone. However, it is also noted that the severe weather parameters are still high for SNE standards. The forecast mentions the potential for strong winds and damaging hail Wednesday PM.
For the first time, the NWS BOX discussion mentions the potential for storms Wednesday AM. The NAM model was forecasting the potential for storms in SNE as a warm front lifted into the region. This warm front is the leading edge of the warm, humid air thunderstorms need for fuel. While the forecaster seems to have doubts about this, it is mentioned.
Surface analysis at 11 PM on 5/31/11 shows a parent cyclone north of the Great Lakes with a trailing cold front through Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and back into Oklahoma. A warm front was lifting through Central New England at the same time.
|WPC Surface Analysis Tuesday, May 31, 2011, 11 PM|
Forecaster's still unconvinced of AM storms, but note the presence of the AM storms could impact the development of storms in the PM.
Morning convection still not anticipated, but forecasters are now fairly certain Western Massachusetts will see severe thunderstorms. A significant tornado outbreak is not anticipated.
Storm fire along the warm front. Hail up to 1" diameter falls in NE MA and S NH. Violent storms rip through Southern Worcester County, Northern RI, and SE MA.
|NCEI radar archives 8 AM-10 AM 6/1/2011|
|IEM Mesonet NWS STW Archive 6./1/11 830 AM|
The SPC issues its early PM Day 1 Convective Outlook. It notes a 5% possibility of tornadoes across much of New England.
A Tornado Watch is issued until 8 PM
A Tornado Watch is issued in Maine.
|IEM Mesonet archive BOX tornado warnings 6/1/11|
At 415, a very strong supercell thunderstorm was entering Westfield, MA. It was not yet tornadic, but the NWS noted rotation on radar.
|IEM Mesonet archive BOX STW 6/1/11|
Here is the radar loop from 200-415 PM.
|NCEI Radar Archive 6/1/11|
The SPC issued an update to the Tornado Watch at 418 PM.
The severe thunderstorm in Hampden County that was showing signs of rotation has now produced a tornado. Law enforcement and media report damage in West Springfield. The NWS issues a tornado warning at 430 PM. This developed in the shaded area of MCD 1053 where the SPC believed a strong tornado was possible.
|IEM Mesonet Archive Tornado Warnings 6/1/11|
Viewers in Western Massachusetts watched the tornado cross the Connecticut River. The threat shifted towards Worcester County around 5 PM. The first tornado warning for Worcester County is issued at 501 PM.
|IEM Mesonet Archive Tornado Warning 6/1/11|
|NCEI radar archive 6/1/11|
The Springfield tornado marched on towards Monson, Brimfield, and Sturbridge before lifting over Oxford, Sutton, and Northbridge.
Supercells continued to fire in Western MA. Another tornado warning was posted at 607 PM.
|IEM Mesonet Archive tornado warnings 6/1/11|
The atmosphere was stilled primed as we entered the evening.
This is the radar from 8-10 PM.
The 3-day forecast verified from the Storm Prediction Center. What no one predicted was that a high-end EF-3 tornado would cause major damage along a 37-mile path in South Central Massachusetts.
|SPC Day 1 Outlook and verification|
SPC Discussions, Watches, Outlooks