Add to the list of reasons why Wellesley’s a great place to live: it’s never been whacked by a tornado, at least from what we’ve been able to uncover (if any weather buffs know differently, please fill us in here).
We’ve been wondering about Wellesley’s history with tornadoes in light of the deadly ones that have hit Joplin, Mo., and other parts of the country in recent days.
There have been tornado warnings in the area, including as recently as last June. There were unconfirmed reports of a tornado touching down in Needham in 1986, and the Tornado History Project website refers to another that hit near Needham in 1972 and killed a person in Newton.
According to several reports, Wellesley did at least get a little taste of the 1953 tornado that devastated Worcester and surrounding communities.
An op-ed columnist who grew up in Wellesley — panning the choice of the name “Worcester Tornadoes” for a minor league baseball team in that town — wrote back in 2005 in the Providence Journal that he recalls “one of the few times that I was truly scared in a blissful childhood in Wellesley, Mass., was on the afternoon of June 9, 1953. I was riding my bicycle in downtown Wellesley Hills when leaves and parts of tree branches began dropping out of the dark and windy sky. They fell around me as I rode home as fast as I could. …Then we learned from television that a tornado had hit Worcester and might touch down again. For a time we didn’t know if the falling debris meant that our house was about to be destroyed. After the danger had passed, the evening news showed a Worcester man picking at the rubble of his home, listening intently for a sign of life. He had been at work when the tornado hit. His family, he believed, had all been in the house. I didn’t find out what had happened to them….”
Separately, a copy of “American Machinest” from 1953 reported that “a man in Wellesley, Mass, some 30 miles away [from the Worcester tornado], picked up a tornado-borne Norton catalog on his front lawn.”
Wellesley, by the way, has youth soccer teams that go by the name Tornadoes.