Ten Worst U.S. Tornadoes

Dr. Greg Forbes
Published: February 20, 2013

#7: Worcester, Mass. (Jun. 9, 1953)

Deadly, destructive tornadoes are not simply confined to the Midwest and South. Our #7 tornado was, arguably, the worst tornado of record in New England.

Total damage estimate corrected for inflation: $1.36 billion (2011 dollars)
94 killed, 1288 injured
Path length: 46 miles over 84 minutes
Forbes index (100-point scale): 31.0

Just one day after 115 were killed in a Flint, Michigan F5 tornado, the same weather system spawned this deadly tornado which raked through the north side of the city of Worcester, among other locations in Massachusetts.

The video above shows the destruction at Assumption College (now Quinsigamond Community College). The school's signature tower lost 3 stories. Two and three-story tenements were leveled, particularly in the upper Burncoat area of town. 

In all, 4,000 buildings were damaged or destroyed. Six of the eight Massachusetts towns impacted reported F4 damage.

Some debris was swept miles away, including a frozen mattress found near Weymouth in Massachusetts Bay as well as books and clothing found at both Blue Hill and on outer Cape Cod.

Next, we visit a tornado which left a scar in a Southern city for years to come.

Featured Blogs

Hurricane Science Legend Dr. Robert Simpson Dies at Age 102

By Dr. Jeff Masters
December 19, 2014

Dr. Robert Simpson, one of the originators of the familiar Saffir-Simpson scale, passed away peacefully in his sleep today at the age of 102. He was the director of the National Hurricane Center (NHC) from 1967 - 1974.

November 2014 Global Weather Extremes Summary

By Christopher C. Burt
December 18, 2014

November was globally the 7th warmest such on record according to NOAA and 8th according to NASA (see Jeff Master’s blog for more about this). It was a cold month in the U.S. with some phenomenal lake-effect snowstorms. A powerful storm, dubbed a ‘Medicane’ formed in the Mediterranean Sea. Deadly floods occurred in Morocco, Italy, and Switzerland. It was the warmest November on record for Australia, Italy, Austria and much of Southeast Asia.Below are some of the month’s highlights.

Live Blog: Tracking Hurricane Arthur as it Approaches North Carolina Coast

By Shaun Tanner
July 3, 2014

This is a live blog set up to provide the latest coverage on Hurricane Arthur as it threatens the North Carolina Coast. Check back often to see what the latest is with Arthur. The most recent updates are at the top.

Tropical Terminology

By Stu Ostro
June 30, 2014

Here is some basic, fundamental terminology related to tropical cyclones. Rather than a comprehensive and/or technical glossary, this represents the essence of the meaning & importance of some key, frequently used terms.

2013-14 - An Interesting Winter From A to Z

By Tom Niziol
May 15, 2014

It was a very interesting winter across a good part of the nation from the Rockies through the Plains to the Northeast. Let's break down the most significant winter storms on a month by month basis.

What the 5th IPCC Assessment Doesn't Include

By Angela Fritz
September 27, 2013

Melting permafrost has the potential to release an additional 1.5 trillion tons of carbon into the atmosphere, and could increase our global average temperature by 1.5°F in addition to our day-to-day human emissions. However, this effect is not included in the IPCC report issued Friday morning, which means the estimates of how Earth's climate will change are likely on the conservative side.