BEN FINLEY (Associated Press)
Virginia Beach, Virginia (AP) — Residents were forced to evacuate a coastal Virginia city over the weekend after a rare and powerful tornado ripped off roofs and pushed homes from their foundations.
Authorities confirmed Monday that it was the strongest tornado ever to hit Virginia Beach, Virginia. Few residents were prepared for the tornado, but no injuries were reported. Some people described hiding under the stairwell. The water table is so high that most of the time there is no basement.
Destructive weather debris littered the United States on Monday as officials investigated unrelated tornado and flood damage from Florida to Maine.
In Virginia Beach, residents credit the cell phone warning system with helping them evacuate in time. One family escaped injury by reacting to the weather warning less than a minute after the tornado began.
“It just happened out of the blue,” said Lori Camper. “Everything lasted 10 seconds.”
She and her visiting daughter looked out the window and saw trees bending and running in the wind. The family, which includes Kamper’s 2-year-5-week-old grandson and her two dogs, stumbled upon the only place without windows: the stairwell.
“Then all the windows in the kitchen were blown out, everything was sucked out of the kitchen, and the tree fell off the roof,” the camper said. “And now one side of the house is leaning.”
In the 19 years she lived there, she had never experienced a tornado this strong.
“Thank you,” she said. “God has taken care of us.”
No injuries have been reported.
Elsewhere, officials were assessing damage in West Virginia, Maine, Florida and California on Monday.The US National Weather Service confirmed a tornado formed in Florida on Saturday. . High waters on the Mississippi are also testing flood defenses in Iowa and Illinois as the river peaks in the region on Monday.
Weather forecasters say up to 8 inches (20 cm) of snow could fall Tuesday morning as a rare winter storm passes through the mountains of eastern West Virginia in May. Snow won’t help ski resorts in areas that were already closed for the season.
In California, late-season weather systems brought showers, and the Sierra Nevada could see high-altitude snow all week. Portions of Yosemite Valley were closed over the weekend due to flooding fears. But the National Park Service said the Merced River didn’t swell as much as expected and the valley reopened on Monday.
In Maine, heavy rains and high winds knocked out power to more than 50,000 homes and businesses Monday morning. In Bath, where naval shipbuilder Bath Ironworks owns a number of cranes, gusts of up to 70 mph (115 kph) were reported on Sunday near Matinicus Island, about 20 miles offshore, and gusts of up to 65 mph (65 kph) on land. 100 kph) gusts were reported. Flood warnings were issued for some rivers in southern Maine as rainfall approached 5 inches (13 cm).
The Virginia Beach tornado damaged at least 100 buildings and tore them apart with winds of 150 mph (240 kph), officials assessing debris and weather data said Monday. Wakefield, Virginia The National Weather Service’s office on Monday morning confirmed the tornado’s rating was EF-3 with winds of 140 mph (225 kph) to 150 mph (240 kph). It’s the first time a tornado has been rated this big, according to NOAA records, with gusts surpassing the largest hurricane ever recorded in the city.
AT Price, 73, was making tacos on the stove on Sunday when his phone started ringing with a severe weather alert. At first he pooped it.
“But it kept buzzing and buzzing. He burst into a closet under his first-floor atrium and crouched in a fetal position under his winter coat.
“I heard a freight train. It was like it was running right over my house,” Price said. “I tell people to heed those warnings.”
Virginia Beach’s director of emergency management, David Topczynski, said Monday that the city was lucky as the storm blew up on Sunday during the music festival.
The tornado caused an estimated $15 million in damage to homes and destroyed nine homes, the city said in a news release Monday afternoon. Another 36 of his homes were badly damaged and rendered uninhabitable, according to the city.
This article has been revised to report that at least 100 buildings in Virginia Beach were damaged rather than destroyed.
https://www.mcall.com/2023/05/01/tornadoes-in-virginia-and-florida-flooding-in-other-states/ Tornadoes hit Virginia, Florida, floods elsewhere – The Morning Call