May 20: With many photos and videos to sort through, it was impossible to prepare this site completely in time even for this tardy update. However, we expect to post more photos and some videos related to the tornado in the days ahead.
Just after 5 on Tuesday afternoon, May 15th, northern Hamden was slammed by what was later identified as an EF1 tornado, packing winds of up to 110 mph. Falling trees pulled down miles of utility wires, blocked dozens of streets, and damaged many homes. At least one home in West Woods was believed to have been destroyed. Travel in the area was impossible.
Engine 9 out of the West Woods fire station was out on a call when the storm hit and was unable return to station because downed trees had blocked every route back to the corner of Johnson and Still Hill Roads. A temporary command center was set up at West Woods School, where children attending an after-school event were forced to spend the night.
Photo by Hailey Wilson, courtesy of Julie Hulten - CLICK to enlarge
Identified by meteorologists as a "shelf cloud," this ominous weather phenomenon was photographed from the Tower at Sleeping Giant State Park by Wallingford resident Hailey Wilson just before an EF1 tornado slammed into the West Woods and Mt. Carmel sections of our town last Tuesday afternoon.
Photo by Mick and Evan Martucci, courtesy of Julie Hulten - CLICK to enlarge
Winds exceeding 100 m.p.h. destroyed hundreds of trees at Sleeping Giant State Park, located near the main campus of Quinnipiac University on Mt. Carmel Avenue. It will take many weeks to clear out the debris. When the fallen trees have been removed it is feared that the park will be unrecognizable.
May 15, 7:25 p.m. - New Road near Mt. Carmel Ave. - Hamden Historical Society photo - CLICK to enlarge
May 15, 7:25 p.m. - Looking south on New Road at Mt. Carmel Ave. - Hamden Historical Society photo - CLICK to enlarge
Hundreds of downed trees entwined with utility wires made dozens of roads in northern Hamden impassible for days following the storm.
Photos by Karl Olson
Photo by Nancy Olson
A Danbury man and a young mother in New Fairfield were killed when trees fell on their vehicles during the storm.
The driver of this My Ride bus was very lucky to escape serious injury when a huge branch crushed the top of the bus as it was traveling east on West Todd Street at Busher Lane.
Longtime Co. 5 members Karl and Nancy Olson took the very shaken driver into their nearby home until help arrived.
A Hamden police officer transported her up to Gaylord Mountain Road, through a maze of fallen trees and wires, to where she could receive a medical evaluation from fire department EMS personnel. Dep. Chief Merwede later told the Olsons that fire department EMS personnel, manning a department ATV, were able to get her to an ambulance.
Photo by Martha Buller (FaceBook) - CLICK to enlarge
A falling tree destroyed this vehicle on the Buller property, just north of the mountain.
Hamden's second tornado inside 30 years inflicted serious damage to the historic Jonathan Dickerman house, located on the south side of Mt. Carmel Avenue near the corner of New Road. The 1792 house, which is owned by the Hamden Historical Society, was moved from across the street to its present location in 1963.
The roof of the nearby Cider Mill barn was caved in by another tree trunk and may be unsalvageable. The historic barn was moved in 1993 to its present location from its original site on West Woods Road near Gaylord Mountain Road.
The area around Sleeping Giant State Park was heavily hit, with hundreds of trees inside the park being uprooted or just snapped off like twigs.
Hitting wind speeds of up to 200 mph, the July 1989 tornado that struck the Highwood-Newhallville sections of town was more powerful. But Tuesday's twister, with wind speeds of 110 mph, inflicted serious damage over a much wider area of town.
May 15, 7:30 p.m. - Jonathan Dickerman House built in 1792 - Hamden Historical Society Photo - CLICK to enlarge
1818 Cider Mill Barn - moved in 1993 to the JD House site from West Woods Road
How the tornado affected just one West Woods family - one of our own
Whose woods these are I think I know.
The December 1995 photo at right shows Car 3 parked in Batt. Chief Tom Doherty's driveway at 142 Tom Swamp Road, one of the areas of West Woods hit hardest by last Tuesday's tornado. Shade from dozens of trees, many of them very tall and quite old, once covered the Doherty home year-around. That all changed Tuesday afternoon around 5 o'clock.
Like many other northern Hamden residents, Tom and Betty Doherty found themselves marooned from the rest of the world, with trees and wires down in all directions. It took several days before Tom could even get to the end of his driveway.
The photo below of Tom Swamp Road in front of the Doherty home was taken by fellow retiree Donny Buechele almost exactly 24 hours after the tornado. Tom and his wife Betty are doing okay now.
This view of the front of 142 Tom Swamp Road was taken at 4:56 p.m. on Wednesday May 16 by Don Buechele.
And miles to go before I sleep.
Taken Sunday morning, this view shows Tom and Betty's mailbox and just one of dozens of their trees that either fell or were snapped off by Tuesday's tornado. It is going to be a very long haul for West Woods residents.