National Weather Service rates Botetourt County tornado an EF0

Homeowners shocked by damage: "My first thought was, ‘Thank goodness everybody is safe'"

Botetourt County tornado storm survey (WSLS)

FINCASTLE, Va. – On Tuesday, the National Weather Service announced the rating for the tornado that touched down in Botetourt County on Saturday.

The NWS has concluded the tornado should be rated an EF0, as it had estimated max winds of 80 to 85 miles per hour.

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This makes it a higher-end EF0 and nearly and EF1.

The tornado was on the ground for 1.2 miles and the path was 75 yards wide.

No one was injured or killed by the twister.

Your Local Weather Authority was on the air Saturday evening after the National Weather Service in Blacksburg issued a tornado warning for parts of Botetourt and Rockbridge counties.

Minutes later, videos and photos came pouring into the newsroom of a funnel cloud.

One picture seemed to show it in contact with the ground.

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Fincastle on Blacksburg Road at 6:32 p.m.

Almost miraculously, there were no immediate reports of damage. A day or so later, the National Weather Service fielded calls of damage to trees on a property near Lee Lane. Monday, a crew went to survey the damage and found that the damage was consistent with that of a tornado.

Property owners Kimberly Smith and Steve Slaubaugh were in awe to see trees uprooted, branches snapped, and limbs torn down.

“It really is crazy,” said Smith. “My first thought was, ‘Thank goodness everybody is safe and none of our neighbors were injured and none of our property was damaged, except for the trees.”

Smith was in her kitchen Saturday night when she heard a storm roll through. She and her kids watched the storm out of their Fincastle home’s window.

“We saw a wisp of rotation in some clouds. It was a fog. It was strange and kind of hard to describe and my kids said, ‘Is this a tornado?’ And I said, ’I don’t think so, I think it’s just a bad wind storm.‘”

It wasn’t until the next day Smith learned that bad wind storm was, in fact, a tornado. Her neighbor is a weather spotter and sent photos of the damage to the National Weather Service. Smith was shocked because she was more concerned about lightning.

“Earlier this year, we had a lightning strike that took out a lot of media in our house: our Wifi, and our televisions, and that sort of thing. So, the rain was pounding and I’m really shocked that we did not hear any of these trees crash down. And as big as they are and as close to the house as they are, I’m surprised we didn’t feel the ground shake or hear anything at all,” said Smith.

Smith’s husband, Steve Slaubaugh, helped out the survey crew by using a compass on his cell phone.

“They said they were going to plot all the points. They had me use my compass on my phone,” said Slaubaugh. “It’s amazing. I mean, I knew about those three trees down there, but I didn’t know about all the path that it took.”

About the Authors

Meteorologist Chris Michaels is an American Meteorological Society (AMS) Certified Broadcaster, forecasting weather conditions in southwest Virginia on WSLS 10 News from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. weekdays on Virginia Today.

You can watch Lindsey during Virginia Today every weekend or as a reporter during the week!