A tornado lashed its way across Windsor, Windsor Locks and East Windsor Monday afternoon, toppling trees, taking down power lines, tearing apart an inflatable sports dome and ripping tobacco netting from fields and draping it across houses and I-91.
Only one minor injury was reported — the driver of a truck that was knocked over by the storm in the parking lot of the Wal-Mart store in East Windsor. A second truck was tossed onto its side on I-91.
The National Weather Service, in a preliminary statement, said the tornado touched down near Hayden Station Road in Windsor and moved 2.25 miles across Windsor Locks and into East Windsor. Wind speeds reached 90 mph and the storm’s width was about 200 yards, the weather service said. The weather service said the tornado was rated an EF1.
Several streets in Windsor Locks were impassable with trees and power lines down. Windsor Locks officials limited access to the neighborhoods because of concern about power lines that were still energized. Connecticut Light and Power Co. said it would have crews work through the night to restore power.
Netting ripped from the O.J. Thrall Inc. tobacco fields along Kennedy Road and Hayden Station Road in Windsor was carried up to 2 miles, across Windsor Locks, the Connecticut River and I-91. Video captured by a motorist on I-91 showed long sections of netting floating through the sky.
Pieces of the Sports World dome in East Windsor, which sits adjacent to the highway, were also ripped up by the storm and thrown across the highway. Traffic came to a standstill at one point.
Twenty nine campers and five counselors were at a summer camp program inside the dome at Sports World in East Windsor when the camp director, Kathy Russotto, received a message on her phone that a tornado warning had been issued.
“Within 10 seconds a very heavy rain started,” Russotto said Monday afternoon. “I went into the dome [and] whistled for the kids.” The children were hustled from the dome into an adjacent building and told to get under tables. “There was a little 5-year-old. I had a counselor pick him up because I could see the dome starting to move, which is very uncommon.”
Russotto was the last person out of the dome. “As soon as we got them under the tables, I heard the noise behind us. I looked out and the dome was gone. It was just a horrendous noise. I can’t even articulate what it sounded like.”
“I saw the bubble start shaking and that’s when I got really scared,” said Dillon Morando, 12, who was attending the Sports World camp. “I was right in the door when I heard it pop. That’s when I ran under the table.”
One of Sports World’s owners, Kate Muratore, said she was relieved everyone was OK. And she called Russotto a hero for getting the kids and staff to safety.
“I just did what you’re supposed to do,” Russotto said.
By David Owens, Hartford Courant