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AJ Bona shows the path of the microburst through his parents' back yard.

Suspected Microburst Topples Trees in North Adams

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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A tree knocked down in Keith Bona's yard on North Street by a suspected microburst on Monday afternoon.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — A severe storm that blew into the Berkshires on Monday afternoon toppled trees in the North Street area with what some residents suspect was a microburst.

The storm was accompanied by some flooding and downed wires and trees around the county, but perhaps the most dramatic effect was a path cut through Keith Bona's yard.

Bona, a local businessman and city councilor, said much of his back yard on North Street is at the base of the mountain and he suspects whatever caused the damage came down from that direction.

"What used to be behind our house was very thick woods with not a lot of light and now it is very bright," he said. "… You look behind our house and it wasn't like one tree came down; it clearly went through the woods."

Bona suspects the path of knocked down trees is 100 to 200 yards long and estimates 20 trees of various sizes were toppled.

"There was one tree that was 4 feet in diameter at its base, and … I would say it was 150-plus feet tall," he said. "There was a couple of really big ones that were 2 to 4 feet in diameter."

The line of thunderstorms arrived shortly before 2:30 p.m. after pummeling areas of eastern New York. The National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm warning of winds of 50 to 60 mph, heavy rain and lightning, and possible isolated wind bursts.

A microburst is a localized column of air caused by a strong downdraft. Damage is usually contained to a defined area.

Bona said the damage fits the microburst criteria because only a single path was effected.

"You go 10 feet to the east or 10 feet to the west, and there is nothing touched,” Bona said. "My neighbor’s umbrella was fine."

A microburst was suspected in the storm damage to the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts' Townhouse dormitories in 2007; a microburst was also believed to have caused significant damage to an area of Pittsfield in 2011.

Bona said he was not home during the storm and had had no idea of the amount of damage. He said his neighbor, Nicholas Mantello of Hathaway Street, was home during the storm.

"I estimate that winds were at least going 50 mph; it was pretty wicked," Mantello said. "I wanted to open my front door and look up the street in the direction the wind was coming from, and I couldn't open my front door."

Mantello said Hathaway Street lost power for a time, but there was no serious damage. He said only Bona's property sustained heavy damage, which makes him believe it was a microburst.  

"It was really localized and if you go a quarter mile in any direction and it’s not that bad," he said. "So it looks like one, but until the National Weather Service agrees, it is just an opinion."

Tags: bad weather,   storm damage,   

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