Although not unheard of, tornadoes are fairly rare in Virginia, particularly in the Washington metro area. So commuters stuck in the usual traffic jam on Interstate 95 could be forgiven on Thursday if they were caught unawares when one quickly formed and then proceeded to travel right across the freeway in front of them. The tornado was one of two confirmed twisters in the area that day.
Perhaps not surprising was the fact several of those commuters thought to take photos and videos of the phenomena while stuck in their cars. Travel on the expressway had come to a halt in evening rush hour traffic, leaving motorists with nowhere to go in the face of the storm.
Here is some of the information regarding the tornadoes that hit Northern Virginia on Thursday.
* One of the tornadoes hit in the area that was the epicenter of August's earthquake.
* The tornadoes touched down primarily in New Kent County and Louisa County, Va. The New Kent County tornado is thought to have also touched down in Prince William County and Charles City.
* The New Kent funnel at times covered a path estimated to be six miles wide. That twister damaged an elementary school and at least 30 homes. Five of those homes were condemned as total losses on Friday.
* In Louisa County, the tornado endeavored to finish off the destruction of an historic plantation home that had been heavily damaged in the August earthquake. The house, known as Sylvania, was built in 1746.
* The tornadoes came as warnings and watches covered nearby areas including Baltimore and Arundel. Those areas were also under coastal flood warnings until noon on Friday.
* The weather is part of a larger severe-weather system that beat up the area on Thursday and Friday. Residents in both the Washington Metro area and Fairfax County, Virginia, were subjected to very heavy rains in addition to the tornadoes.
* There is the possibility that a third tornado actually touched down in the area as well, but the National Weather Service had yet to confirm those reports as of late Friday.
* Preliminary estimates by the National Weather Service regarding the New Kent County tornado pegged that funnel at approximately 95 miles per hour and 200 yards across. If those estimates prove accurate, that would make the New Kent twister a F1 category tornado according to the Fujita Tornado Scale.