Wednesday, 5:45 p.m.— The National Weather Service (NWS) has declared a tornado watch for Burlington and most of Eastern and Central Massachusetts. The watch is in effect until 8 p.m. Wednesday night.
Around 4:30 p.m., reports of tornadoes touching down in the western part of the state spread across Twitter. Possible tornadoes were sighted in Westfield and Agawam and the NWS reported on Twitter that a tornado had touched down in Springfield; photos were posted on Twitter.
On the Springfield Police radio band, police reported that the MassMutual Center arena and convention center would be used as a rally point for the Red Cross and shelter for anyone displaced from their homes. Police reports also included building collapses and reports of people injured.
The National Weather Service has issued a tornado watch for Burlington and other areas of Massachusetts effective from 1:00 to 8:00 p.m. today.
A tornado watch means weather conditions are favorable for tornadoes and severe thunderstorms in and near the watch area. Officials advise people in these areas to be on the lookout for “threatening weather conditions” and to listen for additional announcements and possible warnings during this time period.
The watch area stretches from about 10 miles southwest of Philadelphia to 35 miles northwest of Augusta, Maine and includes the counties of Norfolk and Suffolk in Massachusetts, along with a few other counties across the commonwealth, and parts of Connecticut, New Hampshire, western Maine, New Jersey, southeast New York, southeast Pennsylvania and Rhode Island as well as nearby coastal waters.
Severe weather could include possible tornadoes, hail up to 2 inches in diameter, strong wind gusts of up to 70 miles per hour and dangerous lightning, according to the National Weather Service.
The weather alert states: “A very unstable air mass has developed across this region. […] This combined with strong westerly flow aloft and increasing southerly low level winds will pose a risk of super cell storms capable of large hail, damaging winds and isolated tornadoes.”
If a tornado warning is issued—that is, a tornado has been sighted or indicated by radar—residents should take immediate precautions. The American Red Cross recommends that the safest place for residents to be in a tornado is in an underground shelter, basement or safe room.
"If no underground shelter or safe room is available, a small, windowless interior room or hallway on the lowest level of a sturdy building is the safest alternative," according to a Tornado Safety Checklist published by the Red Cross.