PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The National Weather Service has confirmed that a tornado touched down several times in three Rhode Island communities Friday morning.
Surveyors determined that the tornado “caused significant damage” on a discontinuous path through Scituate, Johnston and North Providence. The NWS said that at its peak, the tornado reached wind speeds of up to 115 mph.
It first touched down as an EF-2 tornado near Byron Randall Road in Scituate, where the NWS said hundreds of trees were toppled, uprooted and snapped in half. 12 News Chief Meteorologist Tony Petrarca joined surveyors on a walking tour of the damage.
The tornado was then tracked to Johnston, according to the NWS, where it weakened to an EF-1. The NWS said the tornado crossed I-295 and briefly lifted a car several feet off the ground before dropping it back onto the highway. It then moved further into town, knocking down dozens of trees and disturbing gravestones at Highland Memorial Park Cemetery.
The NWS said the tornado stopped briefly in North Providence as well, where a number of trees were snapped and uprooted near Mineral Spring Avenue. The hardest hit neighborhoods included Lydia Avenue, Armand Drive and Bennett Street, where the NWS said two homes were significantly damaged by fallen trees.
The tornado was the strongest tornado to touch down in the Ocean State in nearly 40 years, according to the NWS. The last EF-2 tornado to touch down in Rhode Island did so in Cranston and Providence back in August 1986.
The NWS also confirmed that an EF-1 tornado touched down just over the state line in North Attleboro. The tornado briefly lifted before forming again along Gilbert Street in Mansfield, where the NWS said it tossed a 1,000-pound air conditioning unit over a one-story building.
WATCH: Tony Petrarca surveys tornado damage in Scituate (Story continues below.)
WATCH: Strong storms cause damage across RI, Mass.