Inside the Petersburg Tornado

-Posted by NBC 12 Meteorologist Andrew Freiden

The storm survey is in, and the damage in Petersburg Wednesday evening was confirmed by the NWS in Wakefield as a tornado.   Here’s the storm survey from the NWS office:

RELIMINARY LOCAL STORM REPORT...CORRECTED
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE WAKEFIELD VA
326 PM EDT THU JUL 10 2008

..TIME...   ...EVENT...      ...CITY LOCATION...     ...LAT.LON...
..DATE...   ....MAG....      ..COUNTY LOCATION..ST.. ...SOURCE....
            ..REMARKS..

0718 PM     TORNADO          W PETERSBURG            37.20N 77.39W
07/09/2008  EF1              CITY OF PETERSBURG VA   NWS STORM SURVEY

            ROOF BLOWN OFF WAREHOUSE AT THE INTERSECTION OF FARMER
            STREET AND FAIRGROUNDS RD...IN THE WEST SECTION OF
            PETERSBURG. EXTENSIVE DAMAGE TO WAREHOUSE. UTILITY POLES
            AND POWER LINES DOWN IN THE VICINITY. A STORM SURVEY HAS
            BEEN CONDUCTED AT THE SITE...AND THE DAMAGE HAS BEEN
            ASSESSED AS AN EF1 TORNADO. THE TORNADO TOUCHED DOWN
            BRIEFLY WITH A WIDTH OF 30 YARDS...AND A PATH LENGTH OF
            APPROXIMATELY 60 YARDS. NO FATALITIES OR INJURIES REPORTED.

EF-1 tornados have winds between 86-100mph.  On the NWS, web page, you’ll find an image of the radial velocity image from their radar.  I snagged the image and added some comments to try to add some reference.  Please pardon my graphics skills, but hopefully my arrows should give you an idea what the image shows:

You can click on the image for a larger view.  You may notice the outline of Petersburg, plus the bright red and green colors next to each other.  That’s the tornado.  The bright red indicates a 35mph wind going away from the radar site, and the green indicates a  45mph wind toward the radar site.  This image is from about 1500 feet above Petersburg, so the winds could have been stronger on the ground.  

Pretty cool stuff, when you think about it:  Without Doppler Radar technology, there would have been no way of knowing there was a potential tornado forming unless a funnel cloud was spotted.  The area WAS under a tornado warning at the time the image above was captured– Another great job by the NWS team in Wakefield.

The best part of the whole event?  No injuries or deaths.  A great reminder to take Tornado Warnings seriously and to seek shelter when they are issued for your area.

*Thanks to Jessica McNatt at the NWS for her help with this post*

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