ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) — The National Weather Service has confirmed the first tornado in our area in eight years.
It came as part of a line of strong storms that tore through our area on Halloween evening, postponing a lot of trick-or-treating and other Halloween events.
WHSV’s Chief Meteorologist Aubrey Urbanowicz collected photos of the damage and sent them to the National Weather Service to get the tornado confirmed.
She broke down the path of the tornado and how it formed.
At the end of Halloween night, there was debris everywhere, including a piece of sheet metal carried about a quarter of a mile and wrapped around a tree, in Timberville.
The curved path of it could be seen clearly from above where it cut through a cornfield.
As a line of storms passed through the Shenandoah Valley on Halloween evening, a strong gust of wind came through Timberville and took down some trees on top of a hill.
That downburst of straight line winds led to extra spin, causing a very quick tornado to form.
A short distance away, it demolished a barn and sent debris flying everywhere.
The house was spared but you can see that 2×6 beam piercing through the windshield of that car, and then the tornado traveled through this cornfield eventually ending on route 211.
But why was there no warning?
There was enough wind shear and it was possible for tornadoes to form, the National Weather Service issued a tornado watch for the area.
With this type of setup, weak tornadoes, or “quick spin-ups”- can happen quickly, which is exactly what happened here.
There are several challenges being so far away from the radar site, and a weak tornado is not always picked up on radar.
It’s also likely, the tornado was on the ground, for less than sixty seconds, being missed by radar scans completely.
The homeowner is thankful that the house was not hit.
Jim Price tells us how he missed the flying debris.
“I was coming through the field and it started raining and I heard a humming noise, a roaring noise. After it hit, I couldn’t believe it, I came around real quick to see if the house was still here.”
After it destroyed the barn and tore through the cornfield, the tornado clipped several trees. It then traveled very close to another house, taking down several trees and wrapping a piece of metal around a tree top. It also took down more trees on the other side of that house.
The tornado dissipated just before it encountered several propane tanks at Southern States on Rt. 211.
The National Weather Service estimated that winds were about 75mph and the tornado path is a half mile long. Thankfully there are no one injuries.
This makes Rockingham counties 10th recorded tornado since 1950. (Official tornado records started in 1950)
by WHSV First Alert Storm Team (2019, Nov 8)