An EF1 tornado touched down near Painter Road in Middlebury during the heavy storms on Friday afternoon, injuring two and causing damage to several houses.
One of the two people injured was a child, who was taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. One home near 112 Painter Road was deemed uninhabitable by rescue crews, and the Red Cross was called in to assist the family occupying the home.
Middlebury resident Amanda Werner told NBC5 that she was working outside when winds from the tornado caused her to tumble across the yard. Werner suffered a scalp laceration that was treated by EMTs in the area.
The tornado also ripped trees from the ground, detached a standing garage from a house and flipped a car. Werner Tree Farm, which was in the path of the tornado, suffered minor damage.
Meteorologist Tyler Jankoski and his team at NBC5 were the first to call in the tornado.
“The urgency was there immediately and it was unlike any storm that I’ve ever covered in Vermont in four years' time,” Jankoski said in an interview with The Campus.
According to the Storm Event Database at the National Weather Service (NWS), the tornado on Friday was the second to touch down in Addison County since 1950, with the only other tornado occurring in 1965 in New Haven.
“Out of all tornadoes [in Vermont] since 1950, only one has occurred in March, so it’s an extremely rare occurrence,” Michael Wasserstein ’21 said.
Wassertein worked with NBCUniversal as a meteorology intern for the past few years and taught a winter-term workshop in meteorology.
Jankoski noted that an unusually warm March brought high levels of humidity preceding the storm.
“With climate change, we’re seeing warmer spells of weather more frequently than we used to at all points in the year. That opens up the door for severe weather,” Jankoski said.
Jankoski and his team identified the tornado through its debris signature, which is visible on radar and happens when a tornado sucks debris into the air.
“We saw debris in the air on radar up to five-thousand feet,” Jankoski said. “The only way that can happen is if you have a tornado, on the ground, damaging things and sucking up debris.
The tornado lasted five minutes and winds reached 110 miles per hour, according to the NWS. The agency did not warn residents of the tornado before it touched down.
“Tornadoes are the most difficult meteorological phenomenon to forecast,” Wasserstein said. The tornado on Friday was caused by instability in the atmosphere combined with heavy winds and rain.
Correction: An earlier version of this article misclassified the tornado as an F1. The tornado was actually an EF1 using the Enhanced Fujita Scale. In addition, an earlier version of this article misspelled Werner Tree Farm.
Lucy Townend '22 is a Managing Editor alongside Abigail Chang.
She previously served as a senior section editor, a local editor, and a copy editor.
Townend is majoring in International Politics and Economics, studying French throughout her years at Middlebury and is planning on completing a thesis focused on income inequality and regime change.
This previous summer, Townend interned as a private banking analyst at a mid-sized bank in Chicago and plans to continue her work there after graduation.