A microburst or tornado touched down on Topsfield Road near our house on Mill Road, and hit again in the lot just beyond our house on Mill Road, shattering pine trees. Power on Mill Road went out with the storm on Saturday afternoon and did not return until almost 24 hours later, when they fixed the last downed line on Waldingfield Road. We experienced a similar storm a few years ago in March, which took out several trees along the same path. Both storms registered 90 mph winds.

Panoramic photo of the storm over Ipswich, taken from the Market Basket parking lot in Danvers by Deb Wysong
A microburst or small tornado touched down along Topsfield Road, breaking several trees, destroying a house and sending a utility pole crashing across the road.
A microburst or small tornado touched down along Topsfield Road, breaking several trees. A large pine smashed into a house and a utility pole crashing across the road.
The storm jumped over our house and destroyed more trees in the woods less than 100 yards from our house.
The storm destroyed more trees less than 100 yards from our house.

From the National Weather Service, 9/7/2014:

Location... Ipswich in Essex County MA date… September 6 2014 estimated time… 530 PM EDT estimated maximum wind speed… 80 to 90 mph maximum path width… 1 mile path length… 2 miles beginning lat/Lon… 42.69n / 70.89w ending lat/ * fatalities… 0 * injuries… 0

Author's map of approximate course of microburst, using NWS start and end coordinates and ground observations
Author’s map of approximate course of damage from the microburst, using NWS start and end coordinates and ground observations.
A large tree fell over on Washington Street. Photo by David Wallace
A large tree fell over on Washington Street and as well as a large tree in front of the Whipple house . Photo by David Wallace

Summary… the National Weather Service in Taunton MA has confirmed a microburst /straight line wind damage/ near Ipswich in Essex County MA On September 6 2014.

Over one hundred trees were downed… snapped or lost large branches in Ipswich. This included Hardwood and softwood trees such as Oaks and pines. Power was out for a vast majority of the town since many utility lines were brought down.

Damage from the microburst began at mile Lane and Linebrook Road where tops of a large pine Tree and oak tree were snapped off… and ended on argilla Road where large tree limbs and power lines were downed.

The most significant damage was on Topsfield Road where a large Pine Tree was downed and multiple utility lines were downed including a transformer. Damage was also significant on south Main Street at County Road where large Oak trees had limbs snapped off and numerous power and utility lines were downed.

On Waldingfield Road… a large tree and limbs were downed onto the commuter rail tracks which caused delays until the debris could be cleared.

microburst_brissette_tree
A short distance from our house, the Brissette family on Topsfield Road narrowly escaped injury when this large tree fell on their house. A utility pole at the beginning of their driveway  fell across Topsfield Road and a transformer on the pole broke apart, releasing oils that had to be cleaned up by emergency crews.

Based upon the observed damage… maximum wind speeds were estimated to be as high as 80 to 90 mph. The damage path was discontinuous and was about two miles long and one mile wide. A wind gust to 63 mph was measured at the Ipswich Fire Department at 530 PM. The fire station is on central street which is about one mile north of the area that sustained the most damage.

Weather radar image just before the storm struck
Weather radar image just before the storm struck
Shirley Berry took this photo of the storm from Pavilion Beach. Steep Hill is in the background
Shirley Berry took this photo of the storm from Pavilion Beach. Steep Hill is in the background
Deb Wysong was at the Market Basket in Danvers and took this photo of the microburst over Ipswich
Deb Wysong was at Market Basket in Danvers and took this photo of the storm, looking north toward Ipswich. Notice the identical cylinder of water and lower section of cloud in this photo and the one above, taken from different angles.
Photo by Cory Simonds from Little Neck
Photo as the storm approached, by Cory Simonds from Little Neck.

The microburst came after two women were struck by a sudden lightning storm while swimming at Crane Beach. They had no pulse when lifeguards reached them and started CPR. Paramedics continued CPR en routine to Beverly Hospital and restored pulses, but both women were in critical condition, with entrance and exit wounds on their bodies. One of the women died the next day.

A microburst is a downdraft (sinking air) in a thunderstorm that is less than 2.5 miles in scale. Some microbursts can pose a threat to life and property. Although microbursts are not as widely recognized as tornadoes, they can cause comparable, and in some cases, worse damage than some tornadoes produce. In fact, wind speeds as high as 150 mph are possible in extreme microburst cases.

The video below was taken by Daniel Bates

Photo by Cory Simonds
Photo by Cory Simonds

2 thoughts on “Microburst strikes Ipswich, September 6, 2014

  1. There was a lot of damage farther south, along Waldingfield and in Hamilton. I was at IRWA’s Annual Meeting at Groton House in Hamilton (along the Ipswich River), and they had damage to quite a few large trees. Highland Street was closed to the south, as well.

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