Watch: Press box blows over in R.I., but it wasn’t a tornado

Local News

Tornadoes were found to have occurred in Rhode Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts Wednesday night.

The press box at Ferguson Field at Lincoln High School in Lincoln, R.I., was toppled by Wednesday’s severe storm. Robert F. Bukaty/AP

As New England prepares for the impacts of Hurricane Lee this weekend, some communities are still reeling from the effects of torrential rain and tornadoes in recent days. One of those towns is Lincoln, R.I., where heavy winds toppled a press box at the high school. 

Surveillance footage captured the moment Wednesday night. 

The National Weather Service dispatched teams Thursday to survey storm damage in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island. Their findings confirmed that tornadoes did occur in Killingly, Conn., Foster, R.I., Glocester, R.I., Lincoln, R.I., and North Attleboro, Mass. 

But a tornado was likely not the reason the Lincoln press box took a tumble. 

“One of our staff members went out there last night and confirmed the damage to have been from straight-line winds and not from a tornado,” the NWS said in an email to The Boston Globe.

Lincoln Town Administrator Philip G. Gould told the paper that he went to survey the damage at the field Wednesday night, and had heard unconfirmed reports of tornadoes. He said he was focused on marking the area around the press box as unsafe so that people would stay away. 

In a summary of its findings, NWS said that a tornado with an Enhanced Fujita (EF) Scale rating of 1 brought winds of up to 100 mph to Lincoln. An EF-1 rating means a tornado exhibited wind speeds between 86 and 110 mph. 

A funnel cloud was seen passing over North Central State Airport. Across the street, a large tree was uprooted and a 20- to 30-foot section of roof was damaged. A video taken by the town’s animal control showed a “thin tornado” that twisted a large branch from a tree. It moved north, uplifting solar panels before moving across Route 146.

The damage at the field did not get in the way of Lincoln High School athletics. Less than 24 hours later, a field hockey game took place there.

In North Attleboro, an EF-0 tornado with maximum winds of 75 mph briefly touched down in a rural area on Ellis Road. Trees were damaged south of High Street. 

“After speaking with the homeowners they described seeing the sheets of rain change direction before seeking shelter in their basement,” NWS said in its findings.