For a Saturday that started tame and blue, things certainly turned hairy once the sun went down. A ton of energy was swinging through the area just after sunset, triggering storms that created some isolated pockets of wind damage…and three tornadoes in Connecticut and Rhode Island.
Before you say, “I thought we usually have warm weather when we get tornadoes?”, that isn’t always the case. The upper atmosphere can compensate for the lack of heat, and as long as there’s “just enough” low-level instability, we can get the air spinning…in any season.
Saturday night was one of those cases, as this developing storm system intensified directly overhead. While most of us saw frequent lightning (ice in the clouds major contributing factor to that) and torrential rain, a line of severe storms with some embedded tornadic cells was marching out of Connecticut.
As the storms exited eastern Connecticut and closed in the Rhode Island border, two tornadoes dropped. One in Plainville, traveling a whopping 6.1 miles into Foster, Rhode Island, and another in Stonington, plopping down a short-lived - but fierce – 90mph tornado that was on the ground for 1.3 miles and traveled into Westerly, RI.
The southern flank of that line of storms went on to produce one last tornado in North Kingstown, RI before heading into Massachusetts. While we have not had any confirmation of any tornado damage in the Commonwealth, we had our fair share of scares with tornado warnings all the way out to Cape Cod until 7 p.m.
Thankfully, there were no injuries with any of the tornadoes or any of the other storms across the area.
For context, the Ocean State averages 5 tornadoes per year. Some round down to zero, others round up to 1, but it stands to reason that the tiniest state in the US doesn’t typically see a lot of tornadoes in any year. There are always exceptions…and this year appears to be one.