NWS: Microburst likely hit Sunderland

Residents had reported seeing funnel cloud Thurs. night

SUNDERLAND, Mass. (WWLP) – Sunderland police received several reports from residents who said they saw a funnel cloud in the sky Thursday night, and Friday, investigators from the National Weather Service worked to figure out just what happened.

Meteorologist Glenn Field, Warning coordinator at the National Weather Service, told 22News that SkyWarn spotters were sent to Sunderland and Whately to get in touch with local officials and take pictures, to help them figure out what caused Thursday’s damage.

Despite the calls about a funnel cloud, the National Weather Service in Boston reports that it was most likely a microburst that hit the area; with wind gusts up to 80 miles per hour.

Police Chief Jeffrey Gilbert told 22News they focused the investigation on the area near the intersection of Silver Lane and North Plain Road. In that area, several large trees and limbs were damaged, and nearby residents lost power. Gilbert said that there were no reports of injuries from Thursday night’s storms, however.

There was also damage elsewhere in town. Overnight, police closed Route 47 southbound between Burek Cross Road and Russell Streets. The storms also left large amounts of debris on South Main and North Main Streets.

On Friday, Peter Knapp of Sunderland surveyed the damage to his roof from a tree that came crashing down from the force of the strong wind. Knapp had been to East Longmeadow for the fireworks, but based on the weather he drove through coming home, he was afraid something like this would happen.

“We came down the highway, and we said ‘we wonder what we have to look forward to?’ We got to the house, came around the corner, pitch black and the wind, and saw the tree on the house here,” Knapp said.

This downed tree along Route 5 in Whately had been blocking the roadway before being cleaned up.
This downed tree along Route 5 in Whately had been blocking the roadway before being cleaned up.

Across the Connecticut River in Whately, people were also cleaning up downed trees and other debris Friday morning.

The Chabot family was at home when a tree came crashing down around them. Mary Chabot told 22News that it’s a moment she’ll never forget.

“We were in the living room, watching television last night, when the storm kicked up very fast and furious, and we started having branches falling against the house and the windows, and the wind came up and it was like really terrible,” Chabot said.

The damage was not confined to Franklin County. Over the Hampshire County line in Hatfield, our 22News crew also saw some extensive tree damage along Route 5 that was left behind by Thursday’s storms.

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