The severe thunderstorms that charged across portions of Eastern Virginia, including metro Richmond, Sunday (7/12) evening, caused substantial tree damage in spots. Many folks were convinced a tornado had blown through. The NWS confirms that there were none.
We often get so wrapped up in terminology, that we lose sight of this simple fact; wind damage is wind damage. That a tornado or straight-line winds from a thunderstorm caused it really doesn’t matter. It is the result that is important.
Staight-line wind gusts from a severe thunderstorm are sometimes as strong as F0 or F1 tornado wind velocities. I guess it’s human nature to want to say ‘I witnessed a tornado’ after experiencing a particularly intense thunderstorm. However, the fact remains that, relative to our neighbors in the Midwest, verified tornadoes happen infrequently in Virginia. The vast majority that do occur around here are weak ones on the EF-scale, and are difficult to differentiate from severe thunderstorms.
Posted by Jim Duncan