Jul 28, 6:44 PM EDT

Tornado rips off roofs, downs trees near Boston

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REVERE, Mass. (AP) -- A storm system that wreaked havoc across the eastern half of the U.S. spawned a tornado that ripped roofs off homes in suburban Boston, uprooted trees and forced businesses to close.

The tornado, a rarity in Massachusetts, touched down in Revere, a coastal city of nearly 52,000 residents just north of Boston, on Monday morning. City officials said several people suffered minor injuries, including a baby who was in a car and was hurt by flying glass and an elderly woman who suffered cuts.

"Given the magnitude of the storm, it's really a miracle that no one sustained more serious injuries," Mayor Daniel Rizzo said.

The tornado was spawned by a powerful storm that moved through the Boston area shortly after 9 a.m., causing significant flooding. The National Weather Service said it was a relatively modest EF-2 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale of 0 to 5.

The tornado carved a 2-mile path, generated maximum wind gusts of up to 120 mph and was about three-eighths of a mile wide at its peak, the weather service said. It touched down at 9:32 a.m. near the Chelsea-Revere line and was on the ground about 4 minutes.

Rizzo said 65 homes and businesses were damaged, 13 of them left uninhabitable. He said about 2,800 residences were without power but many were expected to have it restored by midnight.

The city opened a temporary shelter for displaced residents.

Gov. Deval Patrick said state officials would "do whatever we can to help."

The weather service said it was the first tornado in Suffolk County, which includes Boston and the northern communities of Revere, Chelsea and Winthrop, since it began keeping records on them in 1950. It said Massachusetts has had 162 tornadoes during that time, the majority of them weak.

Rizzo said it was too early to estimate the cost of damage from the tornado, which affected an area of 3 square miles.

Officials were going door to door in the most hard-hit neighborhoods around Revere Beach Parkway and Broadway, the city's busy commercial corridor.

Paul and Patty Carrabes said they were at work when the wind tore the roof off their Revere Beach Parkway home.

"I probably would have died if I was in there," Patty Carrabes said.

About a block over, Luis Fonseca said emergency warnings came too late. By the time a tornado warning popped up on his cellphone, he said, he was already running to the basement with his niece and nephew as windows shattered and the wooden house swayed from side to side.

Other residents said they received the warnings roughly 10 minutes before the tornado hit, giving them enough time to find shelter.

Rizzo agreed that it "could have been nice" to get more notice to make sure residents were out of harm's way.

"This isn't something we're used to in the City of Revere," he said.

Communities across the U.S. were cleaning up Monday after strong storms.

In eastern Tennessee, officials said there were no reports of any deaths or injuries from Sunday's storms, though at least 10 homes were destroyed. In Kentucky, the National Weather Service said some areas got softball-sized hail Sunday.

Massive hail also was reported in Michigan, where winds toppled trees and ripped the roofs off buildings. And in Ohio, some roads had been blocked by flash flooding. In Pennsylvania, nighttime storms knocked out power to thousands of customers.

In Revere, business owners Monday afternoon cleared broken glass from shattered windows and cleanup crews broke apart downed trees and fallen billboards.

Rizzo said City Hall was badly damaged and there was no decision on when city workers would return. A public ice skating rink also was damaged.

Still, a few Broadway businesses quickly reopened.

The Revere House of Pizza had a steady stream of customers by lunchtime, despite damage to its exterior.

"We're full throttle now," general manager Arthur Pirint said.


Associated Press writers Bob Salsberg, Denise Lavoie and Steve LeBlanc in Boston contributed to this report.

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