Shenandoah County Tornado, April 28, 2002

Published: Apr. 15, 2022 at 3:04 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 28, 2022 at 7:15 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - This was the only tornado photo and video WHSV has of any local tornado in our viewing area, until April 26, 2022 with the Fishersville, Waynesboro tornado.

Storms were expected across the area during the late afternoon on Sunday, April 28, 2002. A tornado watch was issued around 3:30pm that afternoon, meaning tornado conditions were in place and tornadoes were possible. Supercells were moving across West Virginia that afternoon that had a history of producing hail. One supercell continued to move from West Virginia across Shenandoah mountain, into Rockingham and Shenandoah counties.

This was the tornado warning issued just after 4:30 p.m on that Sunday. April 28, 2002.

April 28, 2002
April 28, 2002(Iowa State/NWS)

OTHER STORM REPORTS

-Bergton (Rockingham, Co): Dime size hail (0.75″)

-Rileyville (Page Co): 1.75″ hail, golf ball size

-Stanley (Page Co): Wind damage, power lines down

ARCHIVE VIDEO LINKS

Cleaning up, witnesses report what happened

The clean up, hearing from witnesses. Original report from Jay Webb

From the April 2002 Tornado
Raw Footage of the tornado

Video captured by WHSV

Raw footage
Tornado Survivors- Shenk Interview

Interview with a couple who survived the tornado, but their home was destroyed.

Shenandoah County tornado, 2002

THE PATH

The tornado touched down around the intersection of Quicksburg Rd. and Old Bridge Rd. according to the National Weather Service. The tornado moved across I-81 and Route 11. It then cross Smith Creek and Franwood lane. From there it moved up the Massanutten Ridge and dissipated just before reaching the top. We do have Google Earth images of the path as it moved up the Massanutten Ridge.

Several people in that area said the descruction of trees on the ridge could be seen for years after the tornado.

April 28, 2002
April 28, 2002(whsv)
The tornado ended as it moved up the Massanutten Ridge
The tornado ended as it moved up the Massanutten Ridge(Google Earth)

AIRPLANE HANGAR

Franwood Farms at the time, had a private airstrip with an airplane hangar. This is where 4 people took shelter as the tornado approached. All 4 survived in a smaller, more sturdy room in the hangar huddled together. The walls of the hangar collapsed around them but all were okay.

The private air strip and hangar on the left that was destroyed by the tornado. The hangar was...
The private air strip and hangar on the left that was destroyed by the tornado. The hangar was never rebuilt but the small airstrip remains and this is as it looks today. It was behind this up the Massanutten Ridge where the tornado continued its path until it dissipated just before reaching the top of the ridge.(whsv)

THE SUPERCELL

This supercell started with a line of storms in West Virginia, as it started to move east across West Virginia, this was basically a solo storm, or what we call a discrete cell. It did drop hail in several locations in West Virginia.

The storm moved over Shenandoah Mountain and strengthened and started rotating. Now it’s difficult to say for sure, but we do know that rotating storms can be enhanced moving down a mountain, this is called vortex stretching.

This tornado in Shenandaoh county dissipated as it moved up the Massanutten Ridge. So the opposite of vortex stretching, a tornado moving up a mountain can be compressed and start to fizzle. The cell continued east of the Blue Ridge and strengthened again in a very favorable environment.

This is the same supercell that continued to move east and about two hours after it touched down in Shenandoah County, it touched down again in Maryland. This became the deadly La Plata EF-4 tornado.

The supercell traveled about 300 miles from West Virginia to Maryland.
The supercell traveled about 300 miles from West Virginia to Maryland.(whsv)
The supercell that traveled over Shenandoah Mountain and led to the tornado in Quicksburg

LA PLATA, MD

Here’s more information from the National Weather Service on the La Plata tornado.

PHOTO GALLERY

Photos from Carolyn Long

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