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45 years since nearly 150 tornadoes moved through eastern U.S.

One of those tornadoes moved through the Roanoke Valley

ROANOKE, Va. – On April 3-4, 1974, nearly 150 tornadoes moved through Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, West Virginia and Virginia. 

For comparison's sake, the Super Outbreak of 2011 had more than 300 tornadoes. 

This spawned out of a very strong cold front that moved through the Tennessee and Ohio River Valleys.

Warm, moist air ahead of that front helped get storms going with an area of low pressure in the upper levels of the atmosphere helping to generate spin. 

Multiple tornadoes were confirmed in the Commonwealth during the early morning hours of April 4. Three of which were in Saltville, near Staunton, and in Salem and Roanoke. A few others touched down in the far corner of southwest Virginia in Bristol, Jonesville and near Bartlick.

The Roanoke Valley tornado was rated an F-2, according to the National Weather Service in Blacksburg.

Its maximum width was about 1 mile, and it was on the ground for about 6.5 miles. 


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