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Weekend tornado over Botetourt County rated EF0

A number of viewers sent in pictures and video of the funnel cloud as it moved through
Published: Aug. 1, 2020 at 9:56 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 4, 2020 at 1:50 PM EDT
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BOTETOURT COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ) - The National Weather Service storm survey team has completed its report on the tornado that touched down over the weekend in Botetourt County and found a discontinuous path of snapped trees enough to rate the tornado an EF0 on the Enhanced Fujita rating scale. This is considered a low-end tornado with estimated winds of 80-85 mph.

Here’s a link to the full report from the National Weather Service.

NWS STORM SURVEY
START LOCATIONNortheast of Haymakertown Road
END LOCATION4.8 miles WSW of Fincastle
EST. TIME ON GROUND6:25 pm - 6:31 pm (6 minutes)
EST. MAXIMUM WINDS80-85 MPH
PATH LENGTH1.2 MILES
PATH WIDTH75 YARDS
INJURIES / FATALITIESNONE

TUESDAY UPDATE: Here are a few photos of the tree damage that was observed this morning near Lee Lane in Botetourt county.

Courtesy NWS Blacksburg
Courtesy NWS Blacksburg(Courtesy NWS Blacksburg)

BOTETOURT TORNADO HISTORY

The weekend tornado makes the third one that has touched down in the county since the early 1950s when tornado record-keeping began for our area.

The earliest and strongest was July 22, 1955, when an F1 tornado touched down in Blue Ridge near Colonial Baptist Church.

Then, on April 27, 2011, a tornado outbreak spawned 6 tornadoes in our area. One of those touched down near Eagle Rock, rated F0.

Only three tornadoes have touched down in Botetourt county since the 1950s.
Only three tornadoes have touched down in Botetourt county since the 1950s.(WDBJ)

MONDAY UPDATE: The National Weather Service survey team has confirmed a tornado occurred on the evening of Saturday, August 1, 2020 near 302 Lee Lane, Fincastle. This determination was based on tree damage, but all other details are coming later in a full report, including the rating and estimated path and wind.

The team had to call off the survey Monday afternoon due to lightning and rain, but the search for damage will likely resume late Tuesday as the weather improves.

Courtesy Jessica DuVall
Courtesy Jessica DuVall(Courtesy Jessica DuVall)

EARLY MONDAY: The National Weather Service is currently surveying the areas along the path of a weekend funnel cloud in Botetourt county looking for any kind of damage that would suggest a tornado touched down in the vicinity of the reports. The team may even use a drone (weather-permitting) to assess any damage. WDBJ7 meteorologists will update you on the findings this afternoon as the findings are gathered.

AUGUST 1: It was an intense few hours for Botetourt county residents Saturday evening as a severe storm produced a rare funnel cloud over Haymakertown, just off Catawba Road. Photos and videos immediately started pouring into the WDBJ7 weather center, most showing a well-defined funnel cloud approaching the ground. However, due to the rural path and hilly terrain, none of the spotters managed to catch an actual touchdown and corresponding debris.

Chief Meteorologist Brent Watts drove along the path of the storm for several miles following the tornado warning. Aside from the typical leaves and a few downed tree limbs, nothing that resembled tornado damage was visible from the road.

“It may have indeed touched down, but you may not be able to see any damage because it was over farmland or wooded area. You’d need a drone or aerial view to truly confirm a tornado touched down.”

Without any confirmed damage or video of the funnel reaching the ground, this may have been nothing more than a close call.

The Bryant family was on their porch watching the storms roll through as they often do. This one was different. “The funnel formed fast, but the storm itself was moving slow,” commented Preston Bryant, who has lived at his hillside home for 15 years and never seen anything like this.

If meteorologists at the National Weather Service in Blacksburg feel a storm survey is necessary, they may send a team to investigate and perhaps even fly drones to check out remote areas. We will keep you updated if that happens and any findings.

Tornado off Blacksburg road

Posted by Lee Hipes on Saturday, August 1, 2020

As always, thanks for the amazing photos and videos. You can always upload those to our weather team anytime.

Copyright 2020 WDBJ. All rights reserved.

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