NWS: EF-1 tornado responsible for trail of destruction in Norton

NORTON, MASS. (WHDH) - The National Weather Service has confirmed an EF-1 tornado that touched down in Norton on Tuesday is to blame for a trail of destruction that left some neighborhoods in shambles.

A violent storm system brought heavy hail and howling winds of up to 95 mph, uprooting hundreds of trees and launching debris all over town.

Robert Sullivan says he was caught off guard when the unseasonable hailstorm quickly took a turn for the worse.

“I got the cell phone alert that there was a tornado warning,” he said.

As swirling funnel clouds appeared in the sky near Freeman Street and Mansfield Avenue, Sullivan says he took shelter in his basement.

“I could tell something came down. I did not realize how big it was,” he said of a massive tree that crashed to the ground in his front yard.

Norton firefighters say they had to send tree removal crews to Mansfield Avenue when several homeowners got trapped by fallen trees that blocked driveways and even crushed 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.

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.”

The National Weather Service also confirmed that a tornado consistent with EF-1 damage had touched down in Lincoln and North Providence, Rhode Island.

“In the case of a tornado, we see the winds converging on one central track, and also another thing we look for is a very narrow damage swath,” National Weather Service worker Glenn Field said.

Officials plan to release more information on their findings after completing a damage assessment.

No injuries were reported in New England.

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