Wednesday, June 1st, 2011, was a strange weather day for us here in Massachusetts. The air was downright hot and thick with humidity, not normal for early June but who were we to complain after such a brutally cold winter? Even so, somehow, in the back of your brain, you knew this was different.
You could literally feel it.
The news talked about potential severe thunderstorms throughout the day and there were even a few tornado watches but, what’s to worry about? We don’t get tornadoes here. This is Massachusetts!
Hubby left work that afternoon a little early to beat any bad weather and arrived home safely but a bit apprehensive that I had to head out to teach a class in the next town over. I figured all I needed to worry about was getting drenched in a downpour so off I went as scheduled. (At the time we had no idea that a series of very powerful tornadoes were carving a path of destruction through the western and central part of the state)!
The winds howled outside as I taught and when class was over, we all were simply glad it wasn’t raining. I made it home without incident and we ate dinner glued to the local news channels, awestruck by the ugly-looking radar that now seemed to be heading our way. News reports of the tornado in Springfield were starting to come in and as the storms approached, we began to get nervous things were indeed as serious as they appeared.
We decided to head outside to ‘batten down the hatches’ and as we did so, we witnessed the strangest sky. I’ve never seen it look like this before – the entire sky was yellow. And not a pastel yellow but a deep golden tone that washed over the landscape with an eerie glow. I did my best to try to capture it but this image does not truly do it justice. Dusk never looks like this. In fact, the sun sets way off to the left of the frame and couldn’t possibly produce this effect!
Only now do I understand that this sort of yellow sky oftentimes indicates the coming of a severe storm and one highly favorable for tornadoes. Yikes.
Luckily for us, the storms lessened as they worked their way to the coast and much of the severe thunderstorms went south of us. Relief! We wouldn’t begin to discover the magnitude of the day for those in Western and Central Mass until the next morning as all our news channels were filled with incredible images and video of the destruction. Being familiar with many of the affected areas only makes it all that much more unreal. It just doesn’t seem possible.
My heart goes out to all who witnessed first-hand the horror of the day’s events, especially those who suffered the greatest loss of all – the loss of life. Many have a difficult road ahead of them. Debris can be cleared, trees replanted, homes re-built and power restored, but the scars of this day will take a long, long time to heal.