The tornado swath across Route 16 south of Route 171 has become an instant tourist attraction. They pull over and whip out the camera just like they do when a moose is feeding in a roadside swamp.
It is impressive. I was pressed for time both times when I drove through it over the past few days, so you'll have to settle for my verbal description.
The swath edge to edge begins and ends sharply. It looks like someone drove a giant lawn mower with a dull blade across the forest. On the east side of Route 16, the storm crumpled an old mobile home like a beer can and threw it into the corner of its lot.
According to the National Weather Service, the tornado was on the ground for more than an hour. The path of destruction rips across eleven towns. It destroyed anything directly in its path. You can't do anything to prepare for a storm like this except pay up your homeowner's insurance and get right with God. It was all or nothing.
That's just it: all or nothing. A woman on Lake Wentworth, in Wolfeboro, said the storm destroyed the house next door to hers. In Deerfield, the storm caused its only fatality, shattering what looked like a substantial home while leaving closely neighboring properties basically intact. Zero or one.
Researchers from the Weather Service said they will be studying this storm for years. In terrain not known for tornadoes at all, factors combined to keep one going for an amazing length of time.