The National Weather Service confirms that a tornado hit Tysons Thursday night


The tornado only stayed on the ground for a minute, according to the investigation, producing winds of up to 85 mph along a 200-meter path. Its maximum width was 50 meters.

Damage was reported at two petrol stations along Chain Bridge Road. Sunoco station at the corner of Chain Bridge Road and International Drive suffered serious damage to its canopy. “Winds picked up under the canopy and caused the northwest corner of the canopy to collapse onto the service station building,” the damage investigation said. The tornado also tossed about “water packs and other small objects,” according to the investigation.

The tornado also damaged the adjacent Mobil station.

At the station, “[a] The northwest-facing garage door was blown 10 to 15 feet from the building,” the damage investigation said. “The metal panels at the top of the roof along the northwest and southeast sides of the building were damaged and thrown away from the building. A small awning hanging over the entrance to the gas station was mutilated beyond repair. … Flying debris also shattered at least 6-8 windows at the front of the Mobil station.

A social media video captured what appears to be a 30-50 foot wide funnel running through the Tysons shopping district:

The damage survey said the tornado “likely dissipated in the parking lot of Tyson’s Corner Mall.”

Possible tornado debris landed on Silver Line subway track near Tysons Corner station, causing train delays and single track, says a tweet from WMATA.

The rotation associated with the causative storm, as indicated by radar, suggests the storm was rotating along a line from approximately Warrenton to Chevy Chase as it transited through the Tysons area. A thunderstorm can turn without producing a tornado and, in this case, a touchdown was only confirmed at Tysons.

Radar and sightings indicated that a tornado may also have briefly touched down around Centerville; however, the Weather Service said it had not seen or received enough evidence of a tornado to inspect that area.

Karyn Miller, a Capital Weather Gang follower on Facebook who lives in the Sully Station neighborhood of Centerville, commented that the storm “ripped it out…the chimney and a few other little spots” from her home. She also wrote that her propane grill had been moved four feet on the deck.

March tornadoes in the Washington area are not very common. On average, the region sees about one day with tornadoes every ten years in March, according to Ian Livingstonea Capital Weather Gang contributor.

More generally, tornadoes regularly occur in the region in late spring and summer. They are generally small, receiving EF0 or EF1 ratings, although an EF2 tornado caused significant damage in Annapolis last September. Prior to Thursday, the last tornadoes to sweep across the ring road occurred in July, when the EF1 and EF0 tornadoes touched down in Arlington and the district, causing minor damage.

A thundercloud was spotted in Chantilly, Virginia as a tornado warning was in place for Fairfax County on March 31. (Video: The Washington Post, Photo: The Washington Post)

Thursday’s tornado came on the third day of a severe storm that swept across the plains on Tuesday, the south on Wednesday and the east coast on Thursday. The Weather Service has received hundreds of damage reports from the Texas barrage of thunderstorms in New York. Nearly 60 tornadoes were reported over the three days, with the highest concentration in Mississippi and Alabama on Wednesday.

Ahead of severe weather in the mid-Atlantic on Thursday, the National Weather Service had issued a severe thunderstorm watch in the early afternoon highlighting the potential for damage from straight-line winds and mentioning the possibility of a few tornadoes. The Weather Service had placed the Washington area in an “increased risk” zone for severe thunderstorms.

In addition to Fairfax County, several tornadoes were reported Thursday in western Pennsylvania and central North Carolina, including one in the Raleigh-Durham area. Tornado warnings were issued near Richmond on Thursday afternoon, but there was no confirmation that a tornado had actually touched down.


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