Storm wreaks havoc on southern Franklin County towns

  • A tobacco barn owned by Lawrence Ashman of Long Plain Road in Whately fell victim to Monday’s storm. A dump truck and other equipment was stored inside. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • Crops and several trees in the row of pines in the background were pushed over by winds from Monday’s storm in Whately. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • A tobacco barn owned by Lawrence Ashman of Long Plain Road in Whately fell victim to Monday’s storm. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • A large section of an oak tree landed on a house at 66 Old Amherst Road in Sunderland on Monday afternoon, one of several trees downed by thunderstorms. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • Greenfield resident Sandy Thomas was on her way home from Pennsylvania on Monday when she was forced to pull over on Interstate 91 in Sunderland because of poor visibility brought on by heavy downpours and strong winds. Contributed photo/Sandy Thomas

  • Amy Timmins was watching television in her living room in Greenfield Sunday night when she saw a bolt of lightning that was followed by her losing signal to both her TVs. Following the storm, she noticed a lightning-shaped strip missing from a tree in the woods. Contributed photo/Amy Timmins

Staff Writer
Published: 6/30/2020 2:14:34 PM

Monday’s storm caused damage in parts of Franklin County, primarily the southern towns.

The owner of a large barn in Whately said his near 200-foot-long tobacco barn is a complete loss after Monday afternoon’s storm.

The barn, located near the intersection of Long Plain Road and Straits Road, was previously used for tobacco, but has more recently been used for storage, according to owner Lawrence Ashman. Tobacco equipment, a dump truck and a trailer were in the barn at the time it fell.

The barn — which is set back from the road — shifted south during the storm, causing it to collapse.

The heavy winds also took out a number of trees around his house and in the neighborhood, and pushed over crops.

“It takes a good wind to do that, probably 60 or 70 miles per hour,” said Glenn Field, warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service.

He said the storm in Whately could be categorized as a microburst, or a storm with a particularly strong downdraft of wind.

Elsewhere in the county, police in Deerfield responded to a number of reports of trees and wires down, according to Det. Sgt. Adam Sokoloski.

“We also responded to flash flooding because of storm drains that were clogged on Sugarloaf Street and Conway Road,” Sokoloski said in an email. “Several homes, including one on Upper Road and one on Beaver Drive, had trees fall on them causing some damage.”

The town saw strong winds, hail and heavy rain, he said. It “really cranked up” as it continued to move south.

Greenfield resident Sandy Thomas said the heavy wind and rain while driving on Interstate 91 forced her and her husband to pull over because of poor visibility.

“It was really a little scary,” she said.

They were near Sunderland, Thomas said, when dark gray clouds started gathering in the sky at around 3 p.m. And then for a moment, it looked like the sky was getting lighter.

“The wind started whipping up like crazy and a lightning bolt came out of the sky,” Thomas said.

She said numerous vehicles pulled over on the side of the highway. Thomas and her husband remained parked for about 15 minutes.

“You couldn’t see 5 feet in front of your car,” Thomas said. “It was really intense.”

Thunderstorms are expected in the county through Thursday, according to Field.

“There’s a potential that any one of them could get strong and possibly produce a wind gust or hail,” he said. “We’re losing the upper air support for it, so it should not be as strong the next couple of days.”

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