The peak of tornado season will arrive soon in the U.S., and many states have already felt the effect of forecasters' predictions for an increase in tornadic activity in 2021.
Typically, March, April, and May are the most active months for tornadoes, but this year, April and May could be particularly dangerous as atmospheric conditions are ripe for sudden and frequent outbursts of severe weather.
For only the second time in history, the National Weather Service issued two "high risk" threats in March, focused on the Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia region. Those storms produced some windy and rainy weather for Virginia, but not tornadic activity.
Most Damaging Tornado in Virginia
The most damaging tornado in Virginia history occurred on August 6, 1993, during the lunch hour. It touched down one mile southwest of Petersburg and rapidly grew in size to become an EF-4 tornado. It moved into the commercial historic district of Petersburg and damaged numerous homes and businesses. Forty people were injured.
The tornado then moved into Colonial Heights and struck a shopping district which included a Walmart where three people were killed and 200 were injured. The total damage estimate for Colonial Heights was $29.5 million.
After Colonial Heights, the tornado continued into Prince George, killing one, then onto Hopewell, where at least two homes were destroyed, finally dissipating near the confluence of the Appomattox and James Rivers.
All told, this tornado ran through 3 independent cities with a path length of 12 miles and a total damage cost of $47.5 million. The total ground time was 15-20 minutes.
Most Recent Tornadoes In Virginia by City/County Through 2020
See if you remember any of these tornadoes in your neck of the woods. Did your home or property sustain any damage?
Amelia County: October 11, 2018
One of seven tornadoes to hit Virginia on this date caused downed trees along a three-mile path near Military Road. Spawned by Tropical Storm Michael, flooding rains hampered rescue operations across the state.
Caroline County: June 20, 2015
This tornado, a result of the leftovers of Tropical Storm Bill, caused relatively minor damage to trees.
Charles City County: April 19, 2019
Charles City County had not seen a tornado for 26 years until this EF-2 tornado with 135 mph winds. No injuries were reported.
Charlottesville: May 13, 2000
Heavy thunderstorms that produced winds over 55 mph, large hail, lightning, and heavy downpours also spawned an EF-1 tornado on the north side of Charlottesville. Downed trees, damaged cars, home fires from lightning, power outages, and hail damage in excess of $1 million resulted.
Chesterfield County: September 17, 2018
Two tornadoes struck Chesterfield in the wake of Hurricane Florence. The first, an EF-1 with winds of 100 mph, affected Winterpock to Swift Creek Reservoir. The second, an EF-2 with winds of 125 mph, crossed Hull Street Road and killed one person. The winds from these tornadoes spawned several other tornadoes in the city of Richmond.
Colonial Heights: April 28, 2008
This tornado injured 21 people and damaged Dimmock Square shopping center near Southpark Mall, the same location of a devastating tornado in 1993.
Danville: April 15, 2018
A strong cold front produced strong thunderstorms that spawned six tornadoes across portions of southwest Virginia. A tornado that originated in Caswell County, NC, entered Danville during the 5 pm rush hour and damaged several outbuildings, destroyed trees, and damaged the roofs of several homes.
Dinwiddie County: May 5, 2017
An EF-1 tornado struck Dinwiddie County in the morning, with no injuries reported, but the destruction of several buildings.
Fredericksburg: September 17, 2004
A thunderstorm in Spotsylvania County moved into the eastern portion of Fredericksburg and produced an EF-0 tornado. No property damage was reported, but debris was scattered along Dixon Street.
Goochland County: June 25, 2012
A powerful storm spawned a tornado in the Hadensville area which snapped trees and caused wide power outages.
Hanover County: September 17, 2018
Part of the same series of tornadic activity that affected Richmond in Hurricane Florence's wake, the damage near Rockville was relatively minor compared to the rest of the region. Snapped trees and displaced hay bales were common.
Harrisonburg: April 28, 2011
A strong cold front slowly passed through the region during the morning and early afternoon hours, producing tornadoes in some of the stronger thunderstorms. Many large trees were snapped and uprooted along Irish Path, Indian Ridge Lane, and Melrose Road.
Henrico County: September 17, 2018
One EF-1 tornado from Florence with winds of 95 mph began in the Stony Point area, then crossed the James and left a path of damage through the Tuckahoe area. Downed trees, damaged cars and homes, and power outages resulted.
Hopewell: August 30, 2004
Tropical Depression Gaston crossed into Virginia from North Carolina and produced 14 tornadoes in the region. Wind damage was minor compared to the devastating flooding that came with the storm.
King William County: October 24, 2017
While relatively late in the year for a tornado, a strong cold front touched off tornadoes in Virginia's mountains the night before, which resulted in this tornado in the early morning in King William County. No deaths or injuries were reported.
Louisa County: April 19, 2019
Many remember the Louisa earthquake in 2011, but a costly tornado also hit the area on April 19, 2011, leaving several homes damaged near Lake Anna.
Lynchburg: April 15, 2018
Six tornadoes resulting from a strong cold front struck portions of southwest Virginia. The tornado that struck Lynchburg was the first recorded since tracking began in 1950. Uprooted trees caused notable damage to 332 structures, 34 of which were condemned. Two injuries were reported.
New Kent: October 11, 2018
Tropical Storm Michael produced an EF-) tornado in New Kent. Strong winds blanketed the area east of Richmond over to Gloucester County for several hours, damaging trees and creating power outages.
Nottaway County: October 11, 2018
Another tornado from Tropical Storm Michael damaged homes and businesses during the 5 pm rush hour in Burkeville. No injuries were reported.
Petersburg: June 1, 2012
The Oakhurst neighborhood in Petersburg endured a tornado that toppled trees, smashed vehicles, and injured five people.
Powhattan County: September 17, 2018
Hurricane Florence produced a tornado that caused minor damage across parts of Mosely in the southwest portion of the county.
Prince George County: April 19, 2019
Sixteen tornadoes tracked across southeastern Virginia on April 19 and left a 4-mile path of damage in rural Prince George County.
Richmond: September 17, 2018
A mini-outbreak spawned by the remnants of Hurricane Florence produced five separate tornadoes tracked within city limits.
Roanoke: June 3, 2008
An EF-0 tornado hit the Roanoke area around 6:30 pm this Tuesday evening, triggered by an upper-level disturbance. Hale, winds of between 70-80 mph, and downed trees resulted. No structure damage or injuries were reported.
Suffolk: August 4, 2020
An early morning EF-1 tornado produced by Tropical Storm Isaias caused significant damage to at least eight buildings in downtown Suffolk and felled trees, ripped off roofs, and snapped power poles throughout the area.
Winchester: September 17, 2004
An F2 tornado produced a nearly continuous path of damage for 5 miles in eastern Frederick County. Three homes were damaged, and numerous trees were uprooted and damaged.
For a map of tornadoes across Virginia, click here.
Sources: RTD , UPI