Reports of a tornado touching down in coastal Fairfield County from the Long Island Sound during the height of Tropical Storm Isaias have proven to be accurate.
The National Weather Service confirmed late Friday afternoon, Aug. 7 that a storm cell produced a waterspout off the ocean that made landfall as an EF-1 tornado in the Saugatuck section of Westport at about 1:40 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 4.
EF-1 tornadoes are the second-lowest level twisters, but still pack estimated maximum winds of between 86 and 110 miles per hour.
The twister did not last long, traveling only about 50 yards as it came on shore. The NWS listed the storm as a category EF1 with estimated maximum winds of 95-105 mph.
The waterspout was captured on video by a private meteorologist as it was moving toward Saugatuck Shores.
The twister produced severe damage to a house on Surf Road, with the roof being ripped off, as well as portions of the second floor's supporting wall structure. The debris was tossed about 30 to 50 feet north on the property.
In addition, the tops of several pine trees in the front and side yard were either sheared or snapped off.
The tornado likely quickly lifted and possibly tracked north as a funnel cloud for another 1 to 2 miles before dissipating. The funnel cloud could have touched down as a water spout on the Saugatuck River, south of Route 1, based on an eyewitness report from South Compo Road in Westport.
As a result, 60 roads were closed and most traffic lights in Westport were not operating. About 82 percent of Westport Eversource customers are still without power as of early Friday evening.
The NWS thanked the Westport Fire Department, Connecticut Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, local CT Media, private-sector meteorologists, and the public for their assistance in their storm survey.
EF Scale: The Enhanced Fujita Scale classifies tornadoes into the following categories:
- EF0 - Weak: 65 to 85 mph
- EF1 - Weak: 86 to 110 mph
- EF2 - Strong: 111 to 135 mph
- EF3 - Strong: 136 to 165 mph
- EF4 - Violent: 166 to 200 mph
- EF5 - Violent: More than 200 mph
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