Suffolk dodges storm

Published 9:23 pm Thursday, April 28, 2011

The city spent most of Thursday under a sweeping tornado watch that covered the state’s east coast but saw little damage from the storm that terrified the South on Wednesday and Thursday.

Suffolk first came under the tornado watch about 11:20 a.m. Thursday. It lasted until 9 p.m. and then expired, without any reports of tornados or funnel clouds.

As a precaution, though — appropriate for the third anniversary of a tornado that leveled hundreds of Suffolk’s homes and businesses in 2008 — Suffolk Public Schools canceled its afternoon and evening activities.

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Dominion Virginia Power at one point had about 4,000 customers out of service in Suffolk. According to an online outage map, all had been restored by 9 p.m.

Residents in other parts of the state did not fare as well.

Gov. Bob McDonnell on Thursday morning declared a state of emergency in response to the severe weather, citing possible tornados that struck the counties of Goochland, Halifax, Shenandoah and Washington, among other places. The governor’s office initially reported that eight fatalities had been occurred, but that number was later reportedly downgraded to five.

The state departments of emergency management, forestry and transportation, as well as the State Police, were assisting localities with the emergency response.