NWS confirms tornado touched down in southern Tolland County - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

NWS confirms tornado touched down in southern Tolland County Wednesday

Viewer photo of a possible tornado in Coventry Viewer photo of a possible tornado in Coventry
Barns in Coventry were damaged by the high winds created by the EF1 tornado Wednesday. Barns in Coventry were damaged by the high winds created by the EF1 tornado Wednesday.
The tornado damaged several trees in Tolland. The tornado damaged several trees in Tolland.
A home in Coventry was damaged by falling trees from the EF1 tornado. A home in Coventry was damaged by falling trees from the EF1 tornado.
A truck was damaged by the high winds and falling tree branches caused by the tornado Wednesday. A truck was damaged by the high winds and falling tree branches caused by the tornado Wednesday.
COVENTRY, CT (WFSB) -

National Weather Service confirms an EF1 tornado touched down in southern Tolland County Wednesday afternoon.

NWS officials said the tornado touched down in Andover, traveled to Coventry and ended near Clover Mill Road in Mansfield. Most of the damage from the storm was in Coventry.

The tornado hit the ground at 5:19 p.m. and lasted to 5:51 p.m. with winds at speeds of more than 90 mph. Officials said they believe that the tornado lifted from the ground at some point.

The tornado traveled 11.2 miles with a width of 100 yards. 

But because this tornado was an EF1, officials said it didn't have the power to uproot trees.

"The distance between the clouds and the ground is much shorter, that helps to bring the rotation of these storms closer to the ground," said Matt Doody of National Weather Service.

There were no reported injuries in any of the four towns.

A microburst was reported in Tolland at 4:30 p.m. with winds at speeds of 80 mph, NWS officials said.

"A microburst is a convective downdraft with an affected outflow area of less than 2 1/2 miles wide and peak winds lasting less than five minutes," NWS said in a statement Thursday. "Microbursts may induce dangerous horizontal/vertical wind shears, which can adversely affect aircraft performance and cause property damage." 

There was lots of tree damage and covered roads in Tolland, officials added.

"These are big trees," witness Jeanette Loehr said. "It's going to be a while before we get power back because the lines are snapped right off the pole."

Witnesses described the wind and rain as sounding like a freight train barreling down the tracks as it rumbled through neighborhoods, and left homeowners in places like Mansfield and Coventry rattled.

"I looked out and it was coming right at us. The whole place shook. It was knocking down fences and trees. We're still shaken. We were all hiding in the bathroom together," one eyewitness said.

Several WFSB viewers sent in videos of what appears to be funnel clouds swirling and weaving its way through Tolland Country.

"Seconds. Not even minutes," another eyewitness said. "We were fine. And then it wasn't fine."

Numerous trees were snapped in half like toothpicks on South Street in Coventry, while on Coventry Road in Mansfield a massive Red Oak Tree came crashing down onto a home.

Video: Shane Dunstan's footage of a funnel cloud in Storrs

"We knew a branch went through our ceiling, but we didn't realize that several branches went through our ceiling," said Alison Blair, who had a tree through her second floor kitchen at home in Mansfield. 

Besides learning the damage to her home was more significant than first thought, Blair got a small surprise from her insurance company.

"I didn't anticipate that we would have to wait seven days before their adjuster would come to look at our home," Blair said. "And so it's a little irritating that we can't start to fix our home."

No matter how bad the damage was for people such as Blair, there were residents nearby who might not even have any damage at all.

Members of the NWS said they went to several areas of Tolland and Windham counties on Thursday to investigate the tornado.

Besides observers from the NWS determining if Wednesday's strong storms did in fact spawn a tornado in Coventry, there were less experienced people surveying the damage.

"It's just crazy the way it just seemed to touch down in a small area, and nothing around it," said Lisa Chamberlain of Coventry.

Joe Ulanowicz had at least a half dozen trees down in his yard in Coventry. The trees squashed his canoe, and a chicken coop he owned. All the hens survived, but now they just have some cramped quarters.

"When it came through here it hit pretty hard, and pretty fast," Ulanowicz said. "It was gone in like 30 seconds."

Several gravestones were knocked over at a cemetery on Route 6 in Andover after the tornado on Wednesday and on Thursday, much of the wreckage left by the storm was untouched.

"I've seen hurricanes do this kind of stuff, but to think that it could have been a tornado is totally different," said Tina Wilsey of Andover.

The cemetery belongs to the First Congregational Church, which is a few hundred feet away. Headstones from the 1800s were knocked over and buried under this brush. They were no match for trees in the area.

"We didn't used to have tornadoes and now we are," said Carolyn Lester, who is a church parishioner. "And we better be thinking about climate change and global warming."

Several tornado warnings were issued for those areas on Wednesday afternoon.

Last week, three tornadoes touched down in Fairfield and Hartford counties during severe weather.

Copyright 2013 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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