Remembering the 2011 Super Outbreak of Tornadoes Locally- Part 2

Published: Apr. 28, 2021 at 8:27 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - By the evening of April 27th, 2011 hundreds of tornadoes already touched down across the deep south. The storm system moving into our area after midnight.

(For coverage from 2011 on the other tornadoes that touched down across our area, scroll to the bottom of this article. Also included is details and locations, maps of each tornado)

A map of the super outbreak tornadoes from US Tornadoes
A map of the super outbreak tornadoes from US Tornadoes(US Tornadoes)

In the early morning hours of April 28th, 2011 five tornadoes touched down in our area in the Shenandoah Valley.

Wednesday April 27th 2011 was quiet afternoon across the Shenandoah Valley. In fact it was a beautiful and warm day. Severe storms, just hours away.

Between 2 a.m. amd 4 a.m. five tornadoes carved a combined path of 45 miles through the Shenandoah Valley. This is the biggest local outbreak of tornadoes in our region. Of course disproving any myth that tornadoes don’t happen in the mountains, because they do.

Carl Strite is a farmer in Fulks Run. “It must have just touched down right here- and just completely, just lifted the shed right out of the ground.”

Just after 2 a.m. an EF-2 tornado cut a 33 mile path from Fulks Run in Rockingham County to Toms Brook in Shenandoah County. The Basye and Orkney Springs area hardest hit by 130 mile an hour winds.

The Shamburg family farm in Mount Jackson, destroyed. Below is the link to the before and after Google Earth image of the farm.

Buck Hirsh woke up in the middle of the night, not realizing at first what was going on. “Stuff was laying all the way in the road, and I kept thinking, what is going on, why is this stuff here.”

Then, he starts to see more and more damage and realizes the magnitude of what just happened. “Everything just smashed, and flat”

Ten years later, the family reminisces about roofs being all over the yard and some of the weird things the tornado did.

April 28, 2011
Mount Jackson
April 28, 2011 Mount Jackson(WHSV)

Bev Shamburg said the tornado just “sucked the gas right out of the tanks” of the farm vehicles.

The roof collapsed on one of the barns with the chickens in it. However the roof was in tact and when it came down, it settled on some hay bales so the chickens were okay, and they were almost protected by the pitch of the roof.

Pieces of wood driven through objects, like this tire.

The family says that several 2x4 pieces of wood were driven into the ground so far, they had to get large farm equipment to pull it out. when pulling out the lumber, it was jammed in the ground several feet. This is due to how saturated the ground was before the storm system but it shows you the power of the tornado.

Wood stuck 3-4' in the ground from the tornado
Wood stuck 3-4' in the ground from the tornado(Buck Hirsh)

After the tornado came through here it pretty much destroyed every farm building. There was nothing here, and now the buildings have been rebuilt. But the family wants to continue to thank anyone and everyone for coming to help after the storm, and for literally picking up the pieces of debris across the farms.

“It was like you lost everything, you didn’t have nothing to work with. And you really felt, you was upset.

Out of the destruction came people, the community ready to help pick up the pieces for the Shamburg family. The family says several Mennonites came with their entire family. The football team from the local high school, and more volunteers helping with food, and clean-up.

“We’d have never gotten anything done without all those people helping us. It was the worst and the best thing that ever happened to us.”

And all these years after the powerful tornado- they still will come across debris

“When I’m mowing sometimes, I’ll hit something, and it will be a 2x4 coming up out of the ground- you’ll grab ahold of it and it will be 3 or 4 foot long stuck in the ground. It’s just amazing the damage that was done”

There’s a photo album, with hundreds of damage photos. The tornado destroyed the farm- but the family weathered the storm, together. Bev Shamburg says, “We’re still together, it brought us all closer together”

The previous Shenandoah county public information officer has a few memories that he posted on twitter. Here is that thraed:


As a result of this local outbreak, Rockingham county Fire Chief Jeremy Holloway says most counties in Virginia now have an emergency alert system that you can sign up for. You can customize your home or work location and be notified by cell, home phone, or email.

NOAA weather radios are also a great choice but we do have signal issues in some spots locally.

It’s important to know that we can get severe weather here and that your family should have a plan.


Severe Weather Info

Info on severe weather preparedness and creating that severe weather safety plan

April 2011


Coverage from WHSV of the Aprill 2011 Outbreak- Locally

News coverage from the days after the April 27-28th tornado outbreak and more info on the five local tornadoes that touched down.

Wood stuck 3-4' in the ground from the tornado


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