Study: Tornados Changed Neighborhood Climates

While tree crews in the region continue to clean up brush and fallen branches from October's snowstorm, researchers in Springfield say last summer's tornados left a lasting impact on the climate of some city neighborhoods. New England Public Radio's Karen Brown reports.

The June 1  tornados destroyed numerous homes and buildings….and also tore out of the ground hundreds of trees. While a typical neighborhood in Springfield has about 40 percent of its streets covered by a tree canopy, the tornado-impacted-zone now has only one percent tree cover. As a result, the micro-climate of some neighborhoods has changed – according to a new study by the US Department of agriculture’s forest service. Researchers found that the temperature in tornado damaged areas like East Forest Park and 16 Acres is four degrees fahrenheit hotter than nearby neighborhoods. David Bloniarz is co author of the report. He says his research confirmed many anecdotal accounts he heard from tornado victims, who were lamenting the loss of shade, and other benefits of urban trees.

"They've noticed the houses were hotter, they're running a/c more, and there was a lot more dust in the air. And we were able to show that trees are that natural air filter, they're air conditioning and they're that component that keep people smiling and  happy."

Bloniarz says he hopes to keep track of climate trends in the tornado-stricken neighborhoods, as tree replanting efforts continue. and as the tree damage from last month's snowstorm becomes clearer.

To see the full report, click here