Weather & National Disasters

One Month Later, Tornado Victims Rebuild

By Adam Reilly   |   Tuesday, July 5, 2011
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Jul. 5, 2011

Watch: Greater Boston visits Springfield.

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — The city of Springfield looks a little like a war zone. In the Six Corners neighborhood, uprooted trees sprawl across the ground, trash covers empty lots and and spray-painted X’s mark the doors of condemned houses. But just over a month after tornadoes ravaged Springfield, Monson and other nearby communitites in Western Massachusetts, the story here isn’t ruin. It's recovery.

Exactly one month after the tornado hit, Jacqueline Miller was talking about her home of 24 years with a contractor.

"We’ll frame it, we’ll insulate it, we’ll drywall it," the contractor said.

"Okay, cool," Jaqueline answers.

It wasn't always easy for her to have matter-of-fact conversations about the rebuilding of her home: At first, she says, the trauma was devastating. 

"It was one of the worst things that I have been through," Miller said. "To just have the clothes on back, and don’t where we were going to stay that night for a while, it was just such an empty and hollow feeling. Like whatw am I going to do? I was heartbroken."
In mid-July Miller’s home is slated to be demolished and rebuilt. And Miller says all of her neighbors have decided to come back home.
"We all talked about it. No one said they’re moving away. They’ve been there thirty-something years, they’ve been there forty-something. So they want to come back. 'We’ll see you in a little while,' that’s what we’re always telling each other," Miller said.
Springfield Mayor Dominic Sarno strikes a similarly optimistic note, saying that the tornadoes gave Springfield a chance to showcase its character.
"What’s keeping us going 24/7 has been the resiliency of the people. They’re anxious to rebuild," Sarno said. "We’re not only rebuilding structures and infrastructure, we’re also rebuilding human lives."

As horrible as the damage was, Sarno adds, it’s given Springfield a chance to redefine itself.
"Nobody wants a tornado any time of devastation, national devastation. But this almost gives you an opportunity to reinvigorate an area and come back bigger better and stronger," Sarno said.

Jacqueline Miller isn’t worried about her neighborhood improving. She just wants it to be the way it was before, with the same sense of community that always knitted it together
"I think we’ll be happy, I think we’ll be content. Because like if I cook out on the grill I call, “I got the grill hot, come put some food on.” It was a nice neighborhood," Miller said.

And if Miller has anything to say about it, it will be again.

Sadness and Solidarity in Newtown

Monday, December 17, 2012
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The July Weather Outlook

By Bob Seay   |   Tuesday, July 3, 2012
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July 3, 2012

hot weather

David Reppucci paddles his kayak in Andover on June 21, 2012, as area temperatures reached into the mid-90s for the second day in a row. (Elise Amendola/AP)

BOSTON — So far in 2012 the average temperature in New England has made history ... it’s been among the warmest winters and springs on record. And it's hard to remember any cool day after a heat wave like the one that hit at the end of June.
But although we sweltered as June transitioned into July, June may go down in the books as a month of average or slightly below temperatures, Mike Rawlins of the Climate System Research Center at UMass Amherst said: "The numbers that I'm seeing are 66.8 degrees, which is just about a degree less than the average. And that's probably largely due to those cooler-than-normal temperatures that we had at the beginning of the month," including a couple of days in the mid-50s.
As for the rest of the summer, everyone who's scheduled their vacation for the next two weeks could be in the pink. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration climate prediction center forecast for early to mid July puts New England "at an above-average probability for warmer-than-normal temperatures … and about average precipitation," Rawlins said.
Over the rest of the summer, most of the U.S. is projected to be hotter than average. But NOAA gives New England an "equal chance above-average or below-average temperatures," Rawlins said — meaning we might escape a scorcher.

As Water Supplies Wane, What's Next?

By Kara Miller   |   Saturday, June 23, 2012
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An irrigation canal is seen in Arizona's Salt River Valley. Some experts are concerned that parts of the American southwest are at risk for water shortages. (gem 66 via flickr)

Part 1:

Part 2:

A girl drinks from a tap in Rwanda. (jon gos/flickr)

We look at the increasing scarcity of water.

As the world’s population explodes, from 7 billion to 10 billion, will violence erupt over water the way it has over other natural resources, like gold, oil and diamonds?

Who will control water? And how much will it cost to access?


  • William Moomaw, director, Center for International Environmental and Resource Policy, The Fletcher School, Tufts University

  • Shafiqul Islam, director of the Water Diplomacy Initiative; professor, Tufts School of Engineering

  • Lisa Sorgini Marchewka, vice president, Oasys Water

Spring 2012 the Warmest on Record

By Bob Seay   |   Thursday, June 7, 2012
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June 7, 2012

weather june 7
The weather in Greater Boston as of 1 p.m. on June 7, 2012. (Google)

BOSTON — Despite the chill temperatures the week of June 4, Boston and Worcester have actually experienced the warmest spring since records started being kept in the late 1800s — and Hartford tied its record this year.
"If you average over January through May, we are well above average," said Mike Rawlins, a professor and manager of the Climate System Research Center at UMass Amherst.
Does this warm year bode long-term change? Rawlins said that despite variability from year to year, it does indeed point to a larger trend.
"We have been on a trend toward warmer springs, warmer years … the second-warmest spring on record now is 2010" for Boston and Worcester, he said. "So climate scientists would tell you, and we're in agreement, that the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations are leading to a warmer climate."
And if you're cold now, just wait a few days, Rawlins said: Temps are forecast to rise into the upper 80s.

This Week in State Politics: Storms and the Senate

By Sarah Birnbaum   |   Tuesday, May 29, 2012
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May 29, 2012

BOSTON — This week in Massachusetts state politics, the casino oversight board meets, officials commemorate the Western Massachusetts tornadoes and Springfield hosts the Democratic state convention.
On Tuesday, the Massachusetts gaming commission holds its weekly meeting. The commission has been under pressure to move quickly and plans to start evaluating proposals for casinos in January. The meeting comes after two major casino operators — Las Vegas Sands Corporation and Wynn Resorts  — abandoned plans to build facilities in Massachusetts. Industry watchers say this could mean less competition for the Greater Boston license, leading to lower bids or less ambitious projects.
On May 30, the House of Representatives takes up a bill that would allow 16- and 17-year-olds to preregister to vote. The bill would also authorize random audits of voting machines to make sure they work properly.
On Friday, the governor and lieutenant governor head to Western Massachusetts to commemorate the anniversary of the June 1, 2011 tornadoes. The storms destroyed thousands of homes and businesses. Insurance claims topped $200 million and three people died.
> > WATCH: Tornado damage lingers
And on Saturday, Massachusetts Democrats travel to Springfield for the state convention. Consumer advocate and Harvard professor Elizabeth Warren is expected to easily win the party’s nomination to the U.S. Senate. But North Shore immigration lawyer Marisa DeFranco is also gathering steam. She will likely get the 15 percent of delegate votes needed to qualify for the primary ballot.
> >  READ:Marisa DeFranco isn't going away

About the Authors
Adam Reilly Adam Reilly
Adam Reilly is a political reporter and associate producer for WGBH's Greater Boston.
Bob Seay Bob Seay
Bob Seay is the host of NPR's Morning Edition on 89.7FM WGBH Radio. He got his start in radio during college at WMUH, got involved with WGBH TV while in graduate school at Boston University and formerly hosted ME at WRNI in Rhode Island.
Kara Miller Kara Miller
As a radio host, Kara Miller has interviewed thinkers from E.J. Dionne to Howard Gardner, Deepak Chopra to Lani Guinier. She is a panelist on WGBH-TV's "Beat the Press," as well as an Assistant Professor at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. Her writing has appeared in The Boston Globe, The National Journal, The Boston Herald, Boston Magazine, and The International Herald Tribune.

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Sarah Birnbaum
Sarah Birnbaum is WGBH News' State House reporter. Send her a news tip.


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