Damaging storm in Charlestown was a tornado

  • Dashcam video shows a tornado that touched down in Charlestown, New Hampshire Monday. —Courtesy

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    Debra Morrell, of Charlestown, N.H., photographs damage on Tuesday, May 17, 2022, from a suspected tornado that blew down trees and utility poles along a bout a mile of Route 11 Route 11 on the north end of Charlestown, N.H., on Monday. "I went outside and it was all I could do to walk," said Morrell of Monday's weather. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. James M. Patterson

  • A tree, partially uprooted by a suspected tornadoon Monday, was cut at the side of Route 11 in Charlestown, N.H., on Tuesday, May 17, 2022. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. James M. Patterson

  • A utility pole that snapped during a suspected tornado on Monday on Route 11 on the north end of Charlestown, N.H., waits to be replaced on Tuesday, May 17, 2022. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. James M. Patterson

  • A tree lies on its side on Morningside Lane in Charlestown on Tuesday after being blown down in a tornado on Monday. James M. Patterson / Valley News

  • Path of tornado May 16, 2022 NWS—Courtesy

Newspapers of New England
Published: 5/17/2022 3:12:02 PM

The storm system that brought heavy rains and thunderstorms as it moved through the region Monday also dropped a tornado on the Upper Valley.

The National Weather Service on Tuesday afternoon confirmed that the wild weather caught on a driver’s dashboard camera in Charlestown was a tornado — officially categorized as EF-1, the least damaging level on what is known as the Fujita scale, with estimated winds of 90 mph.

Wes Carter was driving through town Monday evening when he spied a dark, swirling funnel cloud ahead of him. The high winds bent trees and utility polls along the road and rain drummed against his car.

He pulled over as the tornado barreled toward him on the highway, brushing close to his car. Then, he drove ahead, skirting the fallen trees. After the ordeal, he uploaded the dashcam video to YouTube.

The video, shared online and on TV stations, shows a funnel cloud touching the ground near Route 12, just south of Claremont. That road and Route 12A were closed through Tuesday due to damage from fallen trees.

Weather Service staff made the determination that the storm was an official after doing on-the-ground inspection. One of the things they looked for is the pattern of trees knocked down by the high winds.

“If we notice in our survey that all the downed trees are pointing in the same direction” that indicates a straight-ahead wind storm, said Jon Palmer, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Gray, Maine. “A tornado report will have the trees fallen in different directions, indicating that the damaging wind was rotating.”

Monday’s storm system swept through much of the East Coast, creating small tornados in at least two states as well as huge thunderstorms, heavy rain and occasional hailstorms.

Historically, New Hampshire has an average of 1.6 tornadoes a year, usually during the warm summer months. Tornadoes are rare in May in New Hampshire but not unknown. Changing weather patterns caused by climate change has made it more difficult to predict specific seasons for all types of extreme weather.


David Brooks bio photo

David Brooks is a reporter and the writer of the sci/tech column Granite Geek and blog granitegeek.org, as well as moderator of Science Cafe Concord events. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in mathematics he became a newspaperman, working in Virginia and Tennessee before spending 28 years at the Nashua Telegraph . He joined the Monitor in 2015.



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