Wednesday, June 1st at approximately 4:30 pm, the unthinkable happened. A large tornado formed on live television (WWLP 22), and with a captive audience watching the early news at the start of rush hour in Massachusetts’ third largest city, the twister roared across the Connecticut River and into Downtown Springfield causing an enormous amount of damage, four deaths, and an untold number of injuries. The tornado travelled seventeen miles, leveling the town of Monson and leaving a trail of destruction on a path paralelling the Massachusetts Turnpike (I-90). At the time of this writing, the National Weather Service is investigating the damage in the areas affected to determine if this was one or several tornadoes that touched down, and what the exact strength was. Preliminary reports are that this was an EF 2, but that may be upgraded.
Despite the fact that this was not nearly as devastating as the Joplin, Mo tornado, its notable that in New England, it is extremely rare to experience a tornado at all – although not unheard of. It is extremely rare to have the kind of damage that occurred with this event, which is on the scale of the 1954 Worcester tornado.
Its with this background that the Bax & O’Brien morning show took to the air for their June 2 show, and did wall to wall coverage, in their own way. Remember, this is not a region accustom to tornadoes, so, wall to wall coverage is not something radio is geared up for. The city doesn’t even have tornado sirens or shelters!
You’re hearing the last hour of the Bax & O’Brien show the day after the storm. Most of the interviews with state officials have been done already earlier in the program and now they are looking at storm damage online and taking phone calls from listeners.