Up to 100 homes are damaged and a state of emergency is in place in Virginia Beach, Virginia, after an EF3 tornado hit the city, prompting the closure Monday of at least three schools, officials said, as a South Florida community also recovers from a weekend tornado.
No injuries have been reported after “between 50 and 100” homes were damaged when a tornado struck the Great Neck area of the city around 6 p.m. Sunday, Virginia Beach officials said.
Crews from the Virginia Beach Fire Department responded to calls of collapsed roofs and cleared major debris Sunday evening, the department said. Some homes had gas leaks, city officials said, and crews from Virginia Natural Gas and Dominion Power also responded.
Based on the debris signature on radar, damage reports, and videos of the storm, we can confirm that there was a tornado,” the National Weather Service office in Wakefield, Virginia, said in a tweet. The tornado was rated an EF3, with estimated wind speeds of 140 to 150 mph, the weather service said Monday after a preliminary storm survey.
“The worst damage surveyed so far is along Haverham Close with numerous homes experiencing EF3 type damage,” a report on the ongoing survey said. “These well built homes were shifted off foundations, exterior walls were collapsed and roofs were completed removed.”
Cox High School, Great Neck Middle School and John B. Dey Elementary School are closed Monday due to road closures and damage from the storm, the school district said.
The city manager declared a local state of emergency in the wake of the storm, officials said Sunday, announcing the Great Neck Recreation Center would be open to affected residents and their pets. City workers were also expected to begin cleanup at 8 a.m., the city said.
Billy Cunningham heard a siren while eating dinner at a Virginia Beach restaurant, then got video of the tornado. “Not many people there actually saw the debris swirling around the tornado, and it quickly became wrapped in rain, and we lost a visual in maybe 60 seconds from when I first saw it,” Cunningham told .
Hours before the tornado hit, the weather service had warned of “isolated damaging thunderstorm winds and marginally severe hail” from eastern North Carolina to southeast Virginia with a slight risk of severe thunderstorms.
As the threat of severe weather loomed, organizers canceled the third and final day of the Something in the Water music festival. Organizers cited “significant impacts to the festival site caused by severe weather, as well as the current and forecasted storms approaching and tornado warning.”
“No one wants to make this call, but we cannot predict nor negotiate with the weather tonight,” the city said in a statement on the cancellation.
Florida also hit by weekend tornado
The South Florida community of Palm Beach Gardens is also recovering from a weekend tornado, rated an EF2, with estimated peak winds of 130 mph, by the weather service.
Vehicles were tossed and debris strewn along roads after the tornado touched down at 5:10 p.m. Saturday. It was on the ground for about 11 minutes and carved a path of 2.61 miles, a preliminary report from the weather service said.
No injuries were reported, but cars were flipped in a parking lot and tree limbs snapped, video from CNN affiliate WPBF showed. And there was damage along a highway in the area while roads were blocked, the Palm Beach Gardens Police Department tweeted.