Verona Tornado: 5-9-2003

Archive footage from 2003. Tornado in Augusta County
Published: Jun. 2, 2022 at 10:12 PM EDT
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VERONA, Va. (WHSV) -

A F0 tornado touched down in Augusta County on May 9th, 2003. Here’s what happened to set up what was part of a strange extended outbreak.

From April 30- May 11, 2003, 401 tornadoes were recorded across 19 states. On May 9th, 5 tornadoes touched down in Virginia, including one in Augusta County. The number of tornadoes in this period sets a record for most tornadoes in a consecutive sequence.

The overall weather pattern of the US during this outbreak was one were there was a consistent dip in the jet stream in the western half of the US.

In these kind of scenarios, a ridge in the jet stream forms in the second half of the US. This is what the central and eastern US dealt with for over a week.

Several disturbances that formed low pressure systems formed over that week. These disturbances fueled severe weather activity for over a week across the central and eastern US. Access to warm moisture from the Gulf of Mexico helped formed daily severe weather without a cold front to kill off activity for quite some time.

Looking at radar data from May 9, 2003, a supercell system dropped into Virginia from the northwest and moved southeast across the state.

This kind of motion is odd especially in the spring, most storms need moisture from the southwest to fire up spring supercells. Instead, these storms rode the ridge in the jet stream.

The tornado that touched down in Augusta County touched down east of Verona and was on the ground for 5 miles. The tornado lifted west of Crimora and had winds less than 72 mph. Storm surveys report this tornado as weak and not causing any damage.

The supercell system dropped 4 more tornadoes in Virginia, one near Scottsville south of Charlottesville, one in Amelia County, and two others northeast of Emporia.

NWS SURVEY

A tornadic thunderstorm pushed southeast across Augusta and Albemarle counties during the afternoon of the 9th. The storm left two tornadoes, large hail, and wind damage in its wake.

In Augusta County, a tornado touched down in the community of Verona where it downed a 195-foot radio tower onto Mid Valley Lane. Trees were also downed onto a nearby railroad track. The tornado lifted up and down as it pushed southeast toward Hermitage, leaving a discontinuous 50 to 100 yard wide damage path. The F0 twister damaged three barns at the intersection of routes 254 and 608 just northeast of Hermitage.

Finally, after 5 miles the tornado lifted for the last time right after downing trees in the community of Hermitage. This same storm produced high winds which downed trees in New Hope and near Mt. Solon. Small hail was also reported near Mt. Solon.

In Albemarle County, a funnel cloud was spotted 3 miles northwest of South Garden along Route 29. This funnel touched down in the community of Keene where it felled trees onto roads, homes, power lines, and railroad tracks. The F0 tornado lifted up and down as it tracked across 5 miles of Albemarle County between Keene and Scottsville. The discontinuous damage path was 50 to 100 yards wide. About 40 large trees were downed onto Route 6 just northeast of Scottsville before the tornado crossed into Fluvanna County. In addition, the storm dropped large hail along the path of the tornado. Golf Ball sized hail pounded cars at the intersection of routes 6 and 20 in Scottsville. Marble sized hail was reported in Keene.

This storm also produced a downburst of high winds over a large area of southwest Albemarle County south of the tornado’s path. Trees were downed inside a 3 to 5 mile wide swath stretching from Covesville to just south of Scottsville. Downed trees were reported on the following highways: 6, 29, 626, 627, and 715. A tree was also downed onto a home in the Esmont area. Marble sized hail was reported in Covesville. In Nelson County, this same downburst knocked over trees just north of Faber along Route 6.

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