Severe thunderstorm rips through county

BRIDPORT — A severe thunderstorm tore through the heart of Addison County Tuesday afternoon, dumping rain and hail, as well as strong wind gusts that may have been a tornado.
The sky to the west, over Lake Champlain, darkened throughout the humid afternoon. The National Weather Service issued a Tornado Warning for Addison and Rutland counties around 4 p.m.
The storm moved northwest to southeast, from Essex County, N.Y., through Addison and Rutland counties. Advancing at a bristling pace of 30 mph, the storm moved through many towns in the region in a matter of minutes.
John Goff, the lead forecaster for the NWS office in South Burlington, said a team of forecasters was in Addison County on Wednesday trying to figure out if the storm damage was caused by straight line winds, or if an actual tornado formed.
Goff said preliminary reports indicate a top wind gust of 74 miles per hour in Bridport. If a tornado formed at that speed, it would qualify as an F1 on the Fujita scale, a unit used by meteorologists to measure tornadoes.
An F1 tornado is capable of tearing roofs from structures and moving mobile homes off their foundations.
Goff said the NWS has taken reports of downed trees in Cornwall, Shoreham, Bridport, Brandon and Whiting.
He said his office also has received reports of golf ball- to half dollar-sized hail in Bridport and Proctor. Precipitation in southern Addison and northern Rutland counties during the storm was 0.5 to 1.5 inches, contributing to floods in parts of Rutland City.
Goff said Vermont’s severe weather season is mid-May to mid-August. While summer thunderstorms occur somewhat frequently, Goff said ones this damaging do not.
“Severe storms are relatively uncommon, and this would qualify as a severe storm,” Goff said.
THE HAIL FALLING in West Cornwall pummeled some formerly hanging plants Tuesday afternoon. The resident who sent this in said that, despite the obvious spread of ice on the lawn and the frozen pellets shooting out of the sky, the hail storm was even more dramatic than the photo shows.
Photo courtesy of Peter Conlon

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