NORTON, MASS. (WHDH) - The National Weather Service has confirmed a tornado is to blame for widespread damage in Norton on Tuesday afternoon.
A violent storm system brought hail and ferocious winds of up to 95 mph, while uprooting hundreds of trees and leaving debris scattered throughout the town.
Some say they were caught off guard when the unseasonable hailstorm quickly took a turn for the worse in the area of Freeman Street and Mansfield Avenue.
Swirling funnel clouds appeared overhead through much of southern Massachusetts, snapping trees like twigs.
Several neighborhoods were left in the dark.
“I wasn’t really expecting that is was going to be like this, that it would hit Norton like that,” said Ed Bargan.
Norton firefighters say they had to send tree removal crews to Mansfield Avenue when several homeowners got trapped. The fallen trees blocked driveways, even crushing a garage.
“It’s incredible and significant,” Norton Fire Capt. Jason Robbins said. “There’s a large number of trees down that’s caused some major property damage to power lines.”
Ed Capone, who lives in the area and works for the National Weather Service, said “the atmosphere was prime for small spinups” and speculated that the damage could have been caused by a tornado or a microburst, and that they’ll be looking at the downed trees to be sure.
“You can see actually a rotation with damage in different directions with the trees down,” Capone said.
Crews say they’re fortunate there were no reported injuries — and despite the damage, no homeowners were displaced. But there’s still quite a bit of cleanup to go.
“I’ve been here for more than 17 years,” Bargan said. “This is the first time I’ve seen it like this.”
The wild weather also affected Sandwich where a funnel cloud touched down by Sagamore Beach around 6 p.m. before turning into a giant waterspout over the bay.
“I just happened to see clouds swirling and I said, ‘man, that looks weird,'” one witness recalled. “I started to see debris a couple of streets over in the air.”
In Lincoln, Rhode Island, the National Weather Service confirmed a tornado touched down.
Drone video captured downed power lines and toppled trees in that area.
The National Weather Service plans to release more information on their findings at a later time.
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