Tornadoes touch down in PG, Sussex during Good Friday storms

By: Michael Campbell | Twitter: @itsthesoup
Posted: April 22, 2019 | 12:30 p.m.

No injuries reported locally following severe storms

SOUTHSIDE VIRGINIA – The beginning of the Easter holiday weekend got off to a rough and dangerous start for much of Central and South-Central Virginia as a potent line of springtime storms made their way into the Commonwealth last Friday, unleashing heavy rain, wind, and even isolated tornadoes across the area, including some in Prince George and Sussex counties. 

The first batch of storms moved through the region during the late morning hours of Good Friday, serving as a less intense precursor to what was to come in the following hours. While the region was spared the more severe impacts of that first wave, portions of South-western Virginia were not as fortunate as a tornado touched down in Franklin and Bedford County, which was later measured as an EF-3-strength twister on the Enhanced Fujita scale, with winds measuring over 150 miles per hour.

That tornado left significant damage in its wake and, according to published reports, two people were injured as a result of that storm.

Hours later, the second line of storms would trigger tornado warnings up and down the Interstate 95 and 64 corridor as the system made its way northward in the waning hours of the afternoon commute. From between 6 p.m. through the evening hours, officials with the National Weather Service office in Wakefield would issue a number of warnings as the strong storms interacted with the unstable air mass in place ahead of the storms, which created the environment for severe weather. 

It would take the early morning light and the work of the local weather agency’s survey teams on Saturday to determine if tornadoes had caused the damage seen across the region or if straight-line winds downed trees, power lines, and other structures. 

Saturday afternoon, survey teams determined nearly a dozen tornadoes, ranging from EF-0 to EF-3 had developed and touched down during the Good Friday storm system, including one that had a path of nearly 20 miles in Sussex and Prince George County.

This tornado, according to NWS’ report, started just four miles east of Stony Creek’s town limits near Sussex Drive. The EF-0 tornado carried winds between 70 to 80 miles per hour as it traveled across Jerusalem Park Road near Courthouse Road before it lifted just prior to Centerville Road in Prince George. 

According to the agency, the tornado had a maximum width of between 50 to 100 yards and lasted for roughly 15 minutes during its 17-mile journey.

The tornado “mostly uprooted and snapped trees along its path and “A garage was also destroyed from a tree falling on it,” survey teams found during their research on Saturday. No injuries were reported in the tornado.

Right as that tornado was dissipating, a second tornado developed near the community of Disputanta in Prince George, strengthening into an EF-1 tornado with winds of nearly 100 miles per hour. Surveyors found that the tornado, which only lasted four minutes, spun up just south of Lebanon Road and traveled north-northwest across Lebanon Road and Pole Run Road before crossing Pole Run and Hines Road and lifting.

In this case, there were no injuries but, “Many trees were snapped or uprooted and numerous sheds and outbuildings received significant damage or were destroyed” within the tornado’s four-mile path.

Further south near Emporia, another tornado was confirmed by NWS surveyors. Just about 15 minutes before the tornadoes in Sussex and Prince George, a storm cell spun up a tornado near the intersection of Brink and Collins Road in Greensville County, three miles from Emporia. That tornado, which was determined to be an EF-0 in strength with winds between 65 to 75 miles per hour, continued on its five-minute path, snapping trees, damaging some outbuildings, and causing minor damage to a shopping center in Emporia. No injuries were reported in this tornado, as well.

As of the publication of this report, the National Weather Service in Wakefield had confirmed a total of 11 tornadoes had developed during last week’s round of severe weather, including another strong tornado that touched down in Louisa County hours after the EF-3 tornado in southwest Virginia.

In their report, National Weather Service surveyors determined that tornado started as an EF-0, which downed a tree onto a nearby car before moving through an open field and “producing substantial damage to a restored 18th century two-story home.” The tornado strengthened into an EF-2 tornado, with winds approaching 120 miles per hour where it caused more damage, including snapping various hardwood trees and uprooted others before weakening to an EF-1 and causing more damage to a garage as it lifted, finishing its estimated two-minute, two-mile path through the county.

Surveyors are continuing to conduct reviews of communities where damages were reported through the first half of the week, providing their findings on their website,

Many of the stronger storms that affected the Interstate 95-85 corridor missed more populated areas during their advance through the commonwealth last Friday, which resulted in lower power outage numbers across the region. As the storms moved through the area just after 8 p.m. on Good Friday, Dominion Energy reported just over 12,000 outages to customers in their entire service area. Most of the outages were concentrated along the south-eastern reaches of the state near the Hampton Roads area, where they too received the brunt of Friday’s storms. 

Thanks to calmer, albeit, breezy conditions over the weekend, power was restored to the vast majority of customers by the early hours of Easter Sunday.

The storm system that struck Virginia during Good Friday was eyed by local weather officials as early as Monday as meteorologists tracked its impacts across the southwestern US through the Deep South. According to published reports, prior to Friday, the storms were responsible for three deaths and leaving over 100,000 homes and businesses without power across a wide swath of southern states.

Copyright 2019 by Womack Publishing
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