National Weather Service confirms EF1 tornado hit Pittsylvania County, Danville

Tornado on the ground for 16 minutes


DANVILLE, Va. – A tornado caused damage in both Pittsylvania County and Danville on Sunday for 16 minutes, according to the National Weather Service.

The EF1 tornado traveled 12 miles, had a maximum path width of 175 yards and maximum wind speeds of 110 miles per hour, according to the completed NWS survey.

The tornado touched down in southwestern Pittsylvania County, just southwest of Old Mayfield Road at 5:54 p.m. and moved northeast as it passed through the Westover area of Danville, producing a continuous path of damage before lifting at 6:10 p.m. northeast of Pleasant Gap Drive, a few miles to the southwest of Dry Fork.

Numerous trees were damaged or destroyed. While homes sustained minor structural damage, mainly roof damage.

Several outbuildings were destroyed.  

The NWS says the worst of the damage was sustained to a farm on R and L Smith Road, but no injuries were reported in Danville or Pittsylvania County.

On Tuesday, Warning Coordination Meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Blacksburg, Phil Hysell, surveyed the damage in the county and Danville.

He started in Pittsylvania County near Riverbend Road.

Martinsville firefighters assisted in the survey, using the fire department's drone to get an aerial view of the damage.

"We're determining, one, if it was a tornado, or two, straight line winds, and the strength of the wind in terms of the speed, the width, and the length," Hysell said.

After seeing the damage in Pittsylvania County, he estimated that the wind speed during the storm was in excess of 70 or 80 miles per hour.

The next stop of the day was to collect data from the damage around Danville Memorial Gardens on Highway 58 and Reubens Restaurant across the street.

Behind the restaurant, a large portion of the roof of a home was ripped off during the storm. 

"What this helps with is, we go back and look at the warnings that we issued; see if we could've provided more lead time," Hysell said about the data collected during the survey.

"It also helps the community as well. Emergency managers that apply for hazard mitigation grants, to determine future weather hazards in their area, use climatology; look at past tornadoes, past severe weather events, and past straight line winds in the area. This information is used in the submission of those grants."

Hysell also surveyed the damage on Westover Drive in Danville and multiple areas north in Pittsylvania County all the way to Gretna.

Also on Tuesday, the Community Foundation of the Dan River Region was trying to remind people about funds the organization has available to help with storm recovery.

The "Agency Emergency Fund, established about a year ago, had about $20,000 in it as of Tuesday according to CFDRR executive director Debra Dodson.

It was created to help nonprofits with immediate needs after a disaster, such as replacing a roof that was blown off.

The Disaster Relief Fund was created in 2012 and had about $5,000 in it as of Tuesday, Dodson said.

It is primarily to help individuals.

Nonprofits helping people recover can apply for money and then use the money to help the people.

For example, a food bank can apply for money to buy more food to keep up with increased demand as a result of people being displaced by a disaster.

"We just thought we would make people aware of these two vehicles in case people wanted to help try to support and we'll try to help people any way we can," Dodson said.

The funds are available year-round for any disaster.

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