Tornado carves path through woods, tosses trees

BETHEL — Intervale Road residents continued to talk Tuesday about Saturday night's tornado, which tore through the woods on Farwell Mountain, jumped the road, blew through a large cornfield and siphoned Androscoggin River water high into the sky.

Terry Karkos/Sun Journal

Terry Karkos/Sun Journal
Corn stunted from too much rain in the Hastings Farm field took a direct hit from Saturday evening's tornado that touched down on the north side of Farwell Mountain in the background. The twister cut through the trees, traveled through the cornfield, hit the nearby Androscoggin River, crossed Route 2 and toppled trees in Hanover.

Terry Karkos/Sun Journal

Terry Karkos/Sun Journal
Saturday evening's tornado ripped this tree off at its base in Bethel. The rest of the large tree can be seen lying in the background beside a cornfield on the Hastings Farm.

Terry Karkos/Sun Journal

Terry Karkos/Sun Journal
Saturday's tornado ripped this tree apart and dropped it, along with another from the tree behind it, onto Intervale Road in Bethel.

Terry Karkos/Sun Journal

Terry Karkos/Sun Journal
Hay farmer Jason Coolidge of Bethel pointed out this oddity about Saturday evening's tornado, which carved a path through a large cornfield on the Hastings Farm, but left stalks standing beside flattened stalks.

It then crossed Route 2 and toppled trees in Hanover, according to Kevin Saisi of Rumford.

Gloria Crockett of 1360 Intervale Road said she watched it develop in front of Farwell Mountain about a mile from her house.

"When I looked out there was one big old black cloud forming right up over the mountain," she said Tuesday. "I mean huge. It filled a quarter of the sky."

"And right under that, the big black cloud was moving down the mountain, like heading towards Rumford," she said. "Then pretty soon, I started seeing little wisps of black cloud coming right up from the mountain and going into the air."

She said the wisps resembled black smoke.

"It really wasn't in a funnel-type thing, just because it was scattered out around there a little bit, but you could see a few black pieces of something going up through it, but I don't know if it was bark or trees," Crockett said.

National Weather Service meteorologist Stacie Hanes in Gray said Tuesday that the service's storm survey team viewed the damage on Monday and ranked the 7 p.m. twister as zero on the Enhanced Fujita scale of measuring tornadoes. She said an EF0 rating meant it was "a pretty small-scale tornado."

It was Maine's sixth tornado of the year. It packed winds estimated at 80 mph and carved a 100-yard swath for 1.3 miles, Hanes said.

"It was a heavy rainstorm with hardly any lightning in it," she said.

She said the twister touched down on the north side of Farwell Mountain, right where Crockett said it started.

"It moved in a north-east direction and crossed some fields," Hanes said. "There was a convergent pattern in a corn field. Trees were knocked down and corn stalks were snapped."

Hanes said someone had posted a video of the tornado on YouTube. It shows the tornado from Route 2, revealing the funnel cloud forming from the ground up, which Crockett couldn't see from her angle.

She said she watched the twister travel down the mountain, but didn't realize it had crossed Intervale Road within a few miles of her house.

It was the first time in her nearly 60 years that she'd seen one.

"You don't ever know how close some of those things are," she said. "I was about ready to pack my bags and head for the cellar."

Jason Coolidge was sitting on the lawn behind his house with his fiancée, Rebekah Howe, and his son on Saturday evening when they saw and heard the tornado.

"It sounded like a continuous rumble of thunder," Coolidge said. "I looked up and could see the clouds swirling. You could see the edge of it."

As the crow flies, the twister was a half-mile to three-quarters of a mile from his house.

For Amos Kimball of 1727 Intervale Road, the tornado was a quarter-mile away.

He said he was changing his baby's diaper in the house when he saw and heard it.

"It came down through the woods and I heard a loud roar, and then as I got to the window, it was down in the field and hitting the river," Kimball said.

"It sounded like a train. It was loud," he said. "It laid over all kinds of trees and corn, and then I watched it sucking all the water up into the cloud."

Afterward, Coolidge said he drove out to check for damage and found two large trees that had been ripped loose and dumped across the road.

He cleared them with his chain saw. Later, he learned the twister had thrown at least two large trees into the river, both of which could be seen on Tuesday afternoon.

Coolidge and a friend drove onto the Hastings Farm cornfield, where the tornado had flattened several stalks.

Pointing to the edge of the cornfield near the shattered trees, he said, "There were three deer standing over there and we drove right up to them right after it hit and they wouldn't even go back in the woods."

tkarkos@sunjournal.com

Video below by Barry Donovon

 

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Comments

SCOTT THISTLE's picture
staff

Scott Thistle We added the

Scott Thistle
We added the video by Barry Donovan to this story. After the first comment was made.
Cheers,
Scott Thistle
Regional Editor

 's picture

You should check out the

You should check out the video on You Tube pretty wild!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGIqtoJqcqI

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