Non-tornadic storm with 115mph winds leaves damage in southern Virginia

Published: Oct. 26, 2021 at 10:24 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 27, 2021 at 9:16 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - As a cold front swept across the area Monday evening, this lead to some strong and severe storms east of the Blue Ridge mountains.

Severe severe thunderstorm warnings were issued meaning that winds more than 60mph were possible. When winds are that high, that’s enough to create damage and take down large trees. Two tornado warnings were issued by the National Weather Service in Blacksburg. One was near Martinsville, the other was in South Boston.

The storm that prompted the warning in South Boston left behind an incredible amount of damage. NWS Blacksburg surveyed the damage Tuesday to see if it was in fact a tornado.

It was not a tornado, but the storm did produce damaging winds up to 115mph!

Yes, a severe thunderstorm can in some cases produce straight-line wind damage of more than 100mph. In fact straight line wind damage is much more common across our area, or the entire state than a tornado.

The winds don’t have to be spinning to create incredible damage. Straight-line winds can damage homes, and topple trees. In this case, there were thankfully no injuries.

Straight-line winds don’t typically come down in one single burst, it can be several burst coming down out of the storm. That wind accelerates as it moves toward the ground and spreads out, creating damage. The damage path was nearly 3/4 of a mile long with maximum winds estimated to be 115mph. Several homes and outbuildings were damaged by these powerful thunderstorm winds. Several trees were uprooted and snapped.

Snapped trees also isn’t always a sign of tornado damage. Snapped trees can also happen from straight line wind damage.

The photos below are from the National Weather Service in Blacksburg.

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