The following story is reprinted from Foster’s Daily Democrat.
Dover — June 9, 2010 — It’s been almost two years since a major tornado touched down in the Granite State, but the memory is still fresh in the minds of many.
That’s why many residents may have reacted with fear when the National Weather Service twice issued tornado watches throughout the state this weekend, according to Mary Stampone, New Hampshire State Climatologist.
The National Weather Service has confirmed an EF0 tornado touched down in Gorham on Sunday.
With all the talk about tornadoes in the state, one may think the storms are becoming more common. However, Stampone said this isn’t the case. According to Stampone, New Hampshire can expect an average of one to two tornadoes a season and that’s what she’s anticipating this season.
“I haven’t seen any evidence out there to suggest that we’ll have an abnormal amount of activity this year,” she said.
Stampone does expect a warmer summer, which could lend itself to more severe thunderstorms, she said.
Tornadoes in the Granite State are more common in the southern counties and tend to peak in July, according to Stampone. They are typically between EF0-EF3 in intensity on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, which measures tornadoes on a scale of EF0 to EF5.
The state experienced a period of high tornado activity from the early 1960s to early 1970s, Stampone said. In 1963, nine tornadoes were reported in the state, and seven in 1972. In many of the years during that period, the state recorded three to four tornadoes a year. However, the state has not experienced anything like that since.
According to the New Hampshire Department of Safety, the worst tornado in New Hampshire history occurred two years ago on July 24, 2008, when a large thunderstorm system spawned a tornado that touched down in Epsom and Northwood just before noon.
The tornado was measured as an EF2 tornado, with winds up to 157 mph. It knocked down thousands of trees, while more than 100 structures and homes over the 50-mile path of devastation were either damaged or destroyed by falling timber as the storm spun first through Deerfield, then north to Epsom, Northwood, Pittsfield, Barnstead, Alton, New Durham, Wolfeboro, Ossipee, Effingham and eventually Freedom.
“It was an unusual tornado, Stampone said. “For something to be on ground that long, I can’t explain how it happened.”
Stampone said that storm has brought more attention to tornadoes, and noted that before the storm many dismissed the idea of tornadoes touching down in New Hampshire because of the state’s rugged topography.
“That’s a tornado myth,” she said. “They can happen here just as much as anywhere.”
She said the fact the public is now more aware of the storms is a positive thing and said residents should always keep an eye on the severe weather forecast during the summer.