After 27 Years, This Tragedy Still Haunts Berkshire County To This Day
Memorial Day was observed on May 29th 1995 and we had a very unstable weather pattern as our listening area here in The Berkshires and our surrounding portions of the tri-state region including Eastern New York truly felt the effects of summer as that particular Monday saw oppressive humidity throughout the day, but the early evening hours proved to be a true attention getter.
A strong line of thunderstorms from The Empire State's western Catskill mountains was making it's way in our backyard accompanied by an excessive amount of wind and hail. Portions of New York's Hudson Valley experienced massive amounts of rain as reports confirmed that an active F-2 tornado entered Columbia county during the early evening hours and was heading east toward the New York-Massachusetts border.
After 7 pm, this intense system was elevated to F-4 status according to the Fujita scale that measure tornadoes of high capacity. When it descended into the Great Barrington area, this storm touched down on route 71 at The Walter J. Koladza airport, but it was the fair grounds on route 7 that suffered the brunt of Mother Nature's wrath as $25 million in damages were reported and afterwards the venue was unrecognizable.
This dark day also resulted in three lost lives as 2 students and a staffer at The Eagelton School were returning to campus during the heart of this storm as their vehicle was picked up by the strong winds on route 23 at the Great Barrington-Monterey town line. Their memories remain eternal and everlasting . 25 people were also injured after the twister came to rest in Monterey leaving a swath of destruction in a 11 mile radius of Eastern New York and southern Berkshire county in Massachusetts.
Local residents STILL remember this tragedy and recall exactly where they were at that dark moment 27 years ago. This natural disaster impacted our listening area in more ways than one as statistics show the Great Barrington twister was one of the strongest to hit the state parallel to a 1953 F-4 tornado that touched ground in the city of Worcester which resulted in 94 fatalities and also caused excessive damage to that portion of Central Massachusetts.
A total of 34 tornadoes have been documented throughout New England's recorded history with the most recent storm occurring 11 years ago on June 1st, 2011 in the heart of downtown Springfield which resulted in three fatalities, numerous injuries and massive property damage.
(Statistical information obtained in this article, courtesy of Wikipedia)
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