The tornado that raced through western Massachusetts on Wednesday was at least a category EF3, meteorologists concluded today.
However, they have yet to complete their investigation into the damage the tornado wrought and may still upgrade the determination after they finish surveying damage today, said National Weather Service meteorologist Robert Thompson.
It is possible it could end up being ranked higher. But at this time, we feel comfortable releasing the information, said Thompson. It was at least an EF3 in the hardest hit areas along its track, which certainly includes Monson.
An EF3 is considered a strong tornado carrying winds of 136-165 miles per hour that can cause significant damage to structures and destroy those that are not well-built.
Meteorologists are also confident that the tornado carved a path of at least a quarter-mile in some locations. They are hoping to issue a more complete report tonight.
Tornado survivors are being asked to call 211 today and give the state a general report on the damage they have suffered so officials can prod the Obama administration into qualifying Western and Central Massachusetts for federal disaster relief.
Peter Judge, spokesman for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, stressed that anyone who calls 211 will only be participating in a data collection effort.
People will still have to register later this year if recovery aid is approved. And a call to 211 is not a substitute for contacting insurance companies, he said.
We are just looking for simple information so we can get a handle on who had damage, Judge said. It will help us to go forward and to get federal assistance."
Judge also said urban search and rescue teams are no longer actively scouring battered communities for survivors trapped under wreckage because there are no reports of missing persons. If one is made to authorities, he said, the teams will step back into action.
There are, officially, no missing persons. There is no fear that a number of folks are under the rubble, he said. Its just amazing, particularly after you see the damages what was once a triple-decker is now a six-foot pile of stuff.
He said utilities continue to make progress restoring power to the impacted communities. As of this morning, some 13,000 homes were powerless, down from the 40,000 Thursday.
No additional fatalities have been reported to authorities, he said.
Some communities, such as Brimfield, are turning to the state for help in supplying bottled water because the loss of power has shut down well water supplies, Judge said.
He said state and local crews are also making progress clearing away downed power lines, fallen trees, and damaged homes left behind by the tornadoes.
We are transitioning now into the help stage, Judge said.
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