8 Minutes: Bradley Air Museum and the 1979 Windsor Locks Tornado


The tornado, which grew to be almost 1,400 yards wide, gathered strength as it moved north towards the airport. One of the first and hardest-hit places was the Poquonock Community Church, which lost its steeple, roof, and part of the front facade. In nearby cemeteries, heavy gravestones were blown over like dominos.

The Poquonock Elementary School lost much of its roof as well, but thankfully classes had let out early that day and the building was mostly empty

Some of the storm’s worst devastation occurred in the neighborhoods on either side of Route 75 north of the Farmington River.

Almost all of the houses on Pioneer Drive, Meakin Drive, and Settler Circle were destroyed and residences on Hollow Brook Road, Oxcart Drive, River Street, Coach Circle, High Street, Rainbow Road, and Niles Road also suffered damage

All three of the tornado’s fatalities occurred in this area. Two construction workers at the Hartford National Bank were struck by flying lumber as they sheltered in their truck. One man was killed instantly, the other died several weeks later, and the bank was destroyed. In the Settler Circle neighborhood, a 42-year-old housewife was thrown 400 feet from her home and buried under debris. Her body was found by rescue crews the following day.

After decimating Poquonock, the twister continued north. Straight ahead of it lay Windsor Locks and the airport.

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