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Severe storm damages Public Works facility in Covington

Storm damage to the public works facility in Covington... 6.17.22
Storm damage to the public works facility in Covington... 6.17.22(Alleghany Journal)
Published: Jun. 17, 2022 at 5:34 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 17, 2022 at 6:23 PM EDT
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COVINGTON, Va. (WDBJ/City of Covington Release) - A storm with heavy lightning severely damaged the Public Works building in Covington late Thursday or early Friday.

Around midnight Thursday night, city officials believe, lightning hit the fence of the Public Works lot and traveled through the ground, striking an unused underground gasoline storage tank, according to the city. This came from what the city calls “an unpredicted storm system that moved through the area with extreme wind, rain, thunder, and lighting.”

Damage was done to the surrounding Public Works lot and office, and two city vehicles. No injuries have been reported.

The city has taken precautionary measures to ensure the safety and security of the scene, and asks the public to stay away from the area. The city believes there is no threat to public safety or employees as a result of the storm.

Public Works employees have begun to move equipment to other locations within the city and will resume normal operations again Tuesday, June 20, and ask the public to be patient throughout the weekend during the move.

City Manager Krystal Onaitis issued the following statement:

A big thank you goes out to Covington Fire Department, Covington EMS, Covington Police Department, Sheriff’s Department, Public Works Department, and other City Staff for coming out in the middle of the night to assess the damage and secure the scene and make sure everyone was safe and secured. We do not anticipate any inability to resume normal work on Tuesday.

This lightning strike was incredibly powerful. Chris Vagasky, a Meteorologist with Vaisala and the Lightning Safety Council says, “it was a 7 stroke flash that had high potential for damage because it transferred a lot of electricity to the ground in less than half a second. Some of the strokes may have lasted longer than normal lightning strokes, making it even more potent.”

7 stroke lightning flash on Thursday, June 16th, 2022
7 stroke lightning flash on Thursday, June 16th, 2022(Chris Vagasky)

There were 5 negative strokes that were weaker than 20,000 amps. These have a higher potential for containing continuing current, which lasts for 40+ milliseconds, as opposed to normal lightning that lasts for just microseconds.”

So this is basically what it all comes down to according to Vagasky. “Negative lightning weaker than 20,000 amps is more likely to last hundreds of times longer than normal lightning.”

PHOTO GALLERY

Check out these photos of the damage

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