Tornadoes touch down in IW

Published 9:44 pm Monday, January 13, 2014

By Cain Madden

The Tidewater News

Two weak tornadoes touched down in Isle of Wight County Saturday at 3:32 p.m., causing trees and power lines to fall. Some of the trees hit homes and vehicles, but there were no reported injuries.

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The first EF0 tornado, which consists of wind gusts of 65-85 miles per hour, touched down about three miles southeast of the courthouse on Bob White Road at 3:32 p.m., then continued northwest nearly parallel to Woodland Drive before lifting near Quaker Road at 3:35 p.m. It traveled two miles, its wind speeds were 70 to 75 mph, and its maximum width was 50 yards.

Numerous trees were downed during its wake, and roof damage has been reported.

The second tornado touched down 3.5 miles north of Smithfield at 3:32 p.m. just north of Route 10, and then it continued northeast into the Morgarts Beach area before dissipating over the James River at 3:34 p.m. It traveled 1.4 miles, its wind speeds were 75 to 80 mph, and its maximum width was 100 yards.

Trees and power lines went down in the area, and there was damage reported to homes and vehicles.

Bridget De Rosa, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wakefield, said conditions were just right to cause tornadoes in the area.

“When dealing with a line of thunderstorms, there are different portions of the line that could become tornadic,” she said. “Air is pulled into a thunderstorm, and as that happens, winds tend to come from the south, or southeast. Then you have predominant southwest to west winds aloft. The different wind directions from the surface, to the ones driving the thunderstorm along, can cause rotation.

“The squall lines, thunderstorm lines, are notorious for spinning up little tornadoes like that.”