What’s the difference between straight line wind damage vs. tornado damage?
(WHSV) - Severe weather created significant impacts for portions of the Valley. Flooding was a notable issue Thursday but damaging winds and a possible tornado dominated weather headlines Thursday and Friday.
For our viewing area, the first tornado warning of 2020 was issued Thursday afternoon in southeastern Rockingham County and east central Augusta County where rotation was identified on radar near the Grottoes area.
The storms left their mark. US-11 near Fort Defiance and Mount Sidney flooded over. Other areas of flooding occurred in areas east of I-81 near Weyers Cave and Grottoes. Wind damage was also widespread between Verona, Weyers Cave, Grottoes, and Crimora. No tornado has been confirmed in the severe weather events Thursday and Friday.
So how can we tell what is straight line wind damage and what is tornado damage? It all begins with direction.
Straight line winds are well, straight. They are caused from a violent downdraft in a thunderstorm. Tornado winds spin, so impact on the ground is different. Winds from a tornado are stronger. Usually, tornadoes are not confirmed until the next day or two after the event. That’s when the National Weather Service comes out and surveys damage.
If damage is all pointed in the same direction, that is when you know the event was a straight line wind event. The wind hits objects at one angle and blows them over.
Tornado damage is more scattered about. If you have trees falling in all different directions, that’s when you know a tornado came through. Tornadoes have wind flow into it versus out like damaging winds. Tornadoes will pick up things and throw them around while straight line winds go direct.
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