Several strong and severe storms moved through the valley bringing heavy rain and damaging winds Friday afternoon and evening. Here’s a recap of what happened and the damage those storms left behind.
The Storm Prediction Center based out of Norman, Oklahoma, issued a slight risk for most of the area days ahead of time. An enhanced risk was issued for southeastern Augusta County, and parts of Albemarle County were included in a moderate risk. Any level of risk is serious and means we have the chance for severe storms but a moderate risk in this area is very rare. We knew days in advance that Friday would be different. This severe weather was no surprise.
Just before 1:00 pm Friday afternoon, a Tornado Watch was issued for the entire area. For there to be a tornado threat, you need instability, low-level moisture, and shear which is a change in direction of the winds with height. This causes rotation. We had all the necessary ingredients for tornado formation.
At 10:35 am Friday morning a tornado was confirmed in Franklin County, Virginia. Shortly after noon, Severe Thunderstorm Warnings started popping up east of the Blue Ridge.
Just after 3:00 pm a Severe Thunderstorm Warning was issued for Highland and Pendelton Counties. This storm warned for wind gusts up to 60 mph, hail up to 0.75″, and the potential to produce a tornado. The Severe Thunderstorm Warning for the same line of storms was expanded to include Grant, Hardy, Western Shenandoah counties, and northwestern Rockingham County.
Damage reports started coming in shortly after this storm moved past Rough Run and South Mill Creek Dam in Grant County. Pictures of trees snapped over, blocking roads and even a tree on a car were sent in.
This damage is suspected to be from a tornado after we analyzed radar signatures, as well as the path and pattern of the damage reported.
However, at this time there is no confirmed tornado and the National Weather Service will have to investigate the damage to determine if a tornado touched down.
Strong storms also moved through the southern valley, causing flooding in Waynesboro. No other wind damage was reported.