A look back at the Stuarts Draft tornado 10 years ago

In the midst of a deadly tornado outbreak, two tornadoes touched down in our area
Published: Apr. 16, 2021 at 6:05 PM EDT
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STUARTS DRAFT, Va. (WHSV) — On April 16, 2011, a tornado outbreak was underway.

This would be the outbreak we’d still be talking about today, however, it was overshadowed by a larger tornado outbreak just 10 days later.

Between April 14 and April 16 in 2011, this tornado outbreak would produce 178 tornadoes across 16 states. The death toll stood at 38, including two in Virginia from Gloucester county.

This map created by Meteorologist Kathryn Prociv shows the tornado tracks across North Carolina and Virginia on April 16, 2011.

Tornado tracks, map created by Kathryn Prociv
Tornado tracks, map created by Kathryn Prociv(Kathryn Prociv | Kathryn Prociv)

Thirty of the 178 tornadoes touched down in North Carolina. In fact, it was North Carolina’s biggest tornado outbreak on record.

Five powerful EF-3 tornadoes touched down in North Carolina, including one that went right through Raleigh.

Locally, two tornadoes touched down — the first in Vesuvius and the second in Stuarts Draft.

Myrtle Hutchinson described the sound of the powerful storm coming through Stuarts Draft: “There was this big loud noise, sounded like a bunch of freight trains coming through. It was only about five seconds, and it was over with.”

On that Saturday, the tornado touched down around the Cranberry Hills subdivision in Stuarts Draft and damaged several homes. The tornado went on toward Route 340.

When it was over, there was damage to 37 structures, which included 12 homes. Miraculously, no one was hurt or killed by the storm or the tornado.

The path of the tornado was about four miles long, and winds were estimated to be around 100 mph that produced an estimated $2 million in damages.

Two local tornadoes
Two local tornadoes(whsv)

In addition to the tornado and storm damage, heavy rain led to widespread flooding. Three people attempting to cross a bridge in Waynesboro were swept away by rushing floodwaters. Only one boy was rescued. An adult and a little girl died.

Just 10 days later, a second, very large tornado outbreak would produce 360 tornadoes and kill 324 people. More than 3,000 people were injured in the super outbreak.

We’ll have more on the local tornadoes from that event at the end of April.

For the full write up on the April 16 event from the National Weather Service, check out this link:

April 16, 2011 tornado outbreak event overview

A detailed write up from the National Weather Service on this tornado outbreak

Two tornadoes in California

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