May 15, 2018 – Northwest Hills Hail and Tornadoes


An exceptional severe weather event produced 4 tornadoes, tennis ball size hail, and a swath of damaging wind for nearly 40 miles throughout Fairfield and New Haven Counties. The amount of damage over such a widespread area makes this one of the biggest severe weather events in Connecticut since the July 1989 tornado outbreak.

The first storm of the day was a powerful supercell that entered northwestern Connecticut after 3 p.m. It produced two tornadoes, damaging straight-line winds, and hail to the size of tennis balls in Hartland and Granby. this was a remarkably powerful storm.

The storm produced a tornado in Ulster County, New York and baseball size hail in Columbia County, New York. By the time the storm entered Connecticut it was very close to producing a tornado in Salisbury with an area of tight rotation in the far Northwest Corner. Hen egg size hail fell in Canaan as the storm moved east along Route 44.

A vertical radar cross section over Hartland as tennis ball hail was being produced. In the foreground you can see the hook echo that was producing a tornado over the Barkhamsted Reservoir.

The storm also produced a brief tornado just north of downtown Winsted.

The largest hail fell over a very rural part of the state - and still the damage was quite severe. Dented cars, busted windshields, and destroyed siding. If this storm occurred over the I-91 or I-95 corridor the losses would have been staggering.

As the storm entered a more stable airmass over the Connecticut River Valley it weakened. A 47 knot wind gust was recorded at Bradley and that was about the end of the storm as it moved east and fell apart.

Tennis ball size hail (2.5" diameter) is the largest hail to fall in Connecticut since the June 1995 supercell that dropped baseball size hail in Ellington and Lyme.

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