Deadly weather strikes central Virginia, VCU spared from path

The St. John furniture store was rendered unrecognizable after a tornado tore through this Chesterfield shopping center. Photo by Erin Edgerton
The St. John furniture store was rendered unrecognizable after a tornado tore through this Chesterfield shopping center. Photo by Erin Edgerton

Logan Reardon, Staff Writer

At least one person has died, another was left injured and several buildings were destroyed when one of at least seven tornadoes in the surrounding area tore through Hull Street in Midlothian.

Multiple tornadoes are confirmed to have touched down in areas across Chesterfield, Henrico, Richmond and Powhatan on Monday evening. It is unclear as of publication exactly how many tornadoes spawned from this storm.

One of the tornadoes hit Weldon Drive in Tuckahoe, causing three trees in a woman’s yard to be uprooted — one of them falling onto a nearby powerline and another falling onto her house. The woman was not injured, according to Jason Miller of Spartan Construction and Tree Service, who was at the scene to help assess the damages to the property. The resident was not available for comment.

No tornadoes touched down on campus, however people in VCU buildings were confined to those spaces for about two hours until conditions outside cleared up. The tornado warnings, in place at VCU until about 5:45 p.m., caused class and event cancellations.

Over the next few days, The National Weather Service in Wakefield will travel to these areas to survey the damage caused by these tornadoes. The NWS said they will make tracks of the damage to figure out the strength of the tornadoes and will publish the data they find online.

“After surveys tomorrow we’ll make a nicer summary page with tracks and photos,” said Scott Schumann of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Debris from the storm causes damage to the house next to the St. John Furniture store. Photo by Erin Edgerton

Category 3 hurricane batters the Carolinas, spares Richmond after universities close

Originally forecasted to move north, Hurricane Florence took a last-minute shift south, missing Richmond.

Florence, downgraded before making landfall from a Category 4 to a 3, caused massive damage to the Carolinas over the weekend. Its accompanying storm surge resulted in extensive flooding and the deaths of at least 32 people. That number is expected to rise in Florence’s wake.

According to the National Weather Service, record rainfall of 20 or more inches was documented in some areas. Additional rainfall came to Richmond on Monday and Tuesday after Florence was downgraded to a tropical depression Sunday.

“The worst flooding is yet to come for portions of the Carolinas, the southern [and] central Appalachians from western NC to west-central VA and far eastern WV,” the National Weather Service said in a tweet on Saturday.

Florence’s effect on Richmond was small compared to other areas in Virginia — the city only received scattered showers between Friday and Sunday. Before the storm’s shifted, the forecast expected Richmond to be much more affected, and VCU prepared for the worst.

The Stuart C. Siegel Center was designated as a shelter in the event of severe impact from Florence, but ended up not being needed. Other facilities at Christopher Newport University and the College of William and Mary were utilized by people who had to evacuate coastal areas, however, the facilities closed around noon on Saturday when the weather cleared up.

VCU closed on Thursday, cancelling classes and multiple events through Sunday due to the incoming storm. VCU junior Gina Cutler said she understood the school’s decision, but still thinks it was a mistake to cancel classes.

“They did their best with the knowledge they had,” Cutler said. “It was a good idea at the time, but it ended up being a huge waste.”

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