Too close for comfort

Published 1:37 pm Saturday, February 27, 2016

Many in Western Tidewater took precautions on Wednesday when the weather forecast severe thunderstorms with the potential for tornadoes.

But human nature being what it is, it’s almost surely the case that there were those in Western Tidewater who took Wednesday’s warnings about tornadoes in Southeastern Virginia with a grain of salt. Surely there were those who went about their business as if nothing more was happening than a little rain, some wind and maybe a bit of hail.

Our friends in nearby Sussex County got an especially grim look at the damage these storms can wreak, and they’re mourning the deaths of three people who were thrown 300 yards from the trailer where they had attempted to ride out the storm. In Appomattox County, a 78-year-old man died when he was thrown from his own mobile home.

Communities across the central and eastern part of the commonwealth were scarred by four different confirmed tornadoes, according to the U.S. Weather Service. The one that hit Waverly cut a nine-mile path through Sussex County, destroying mobile homes, wrecking businesses, shredding trees and scattering debris along routes 40 and 460. That twister was measured as an EF-1, near the low end of the power scale for tornadoes. The one that tracked an amazing 28 miles across the Peninsula and the Northern Neck, wrecking homes and businesses along the way, was rated an EF-1 or EF-2 for most of its path, but it intensified to EF-3 (on a scale that goes to EF-5) at one point as it crossed Essex County.

We are thankful that no tornadoes touched down here on Wednesday, but we will be praying for our neighbors in Waverly and other Virginia localities who were not as fortunate as us, as we only suffered from minor wind damage, hail and minor flooding.