UPDATE: Damage assessment after Tornado hits Pulaski County

Published: Aug. 9, 2019 at 9:24 PM EDT
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UPDATE on 8/12: We now have a better idea of the extent of the damage from straight line winds and the brief EF-1 tornado that touched down in Pulaski County on Friday.

The county administrator said seven homes were impacted, but there was no damage of great significance. Some homes did lose exterior out building structures.

County Administrator Jonathan Sweet said that three vehicles were also destroyed along with somewhere between 1,000 and 3,000 trees.

“It’s a natural event that creates an ecosystem within itself so we are not concerned about any environmental impact issues," Sweet said. “The team has just completed their windshield tour of the damage and they’re looking deeper into the amount and extent of certain structural damages.”

Crews are still working to determine the extent and cost of the damage. The county administrator believes they will wrap everything up in the next couple of weeks.

This is now the fourth tornado to hit the county since 2011.

UPDATE on 8/10: While much of the damage in Giles and Pulaski counties was determined to be caused by straight-line winds, the National Weather Service confirmed a brief tornado did touch down in Pulaski county near Bella Vista Friday night.

National Weather Service confirms around 8:10pm, an embedded tornado touched down within the straight-line wind event near Blevins Lane and moved along Sunrise Drive roughly a quarter of a mile. The tornado then lifted after being on the ground for one minute.

The tornado was rated an EF-1, with winds 90-95mph.


Before the tornado occurred, the storm first produced wind damage in Giles county near Walker Creek, Flat Hollow and White Pine Roads.


The storm then moved into Pulaski county with additional straight-line wind damage as the storm intensified and produced the brief tornado (mentioned above).

No injuries were reported from any of the events. The areas were under Severe Thunderstorm Warnings at the time.

On Saturday, neighbors in Pulaski County were busy cleaning up the mess. They said it happened so quickly that there was no time to prepare.

“For about 30 seconds you couldn’t see nothing it was just like it went night and then I could see the trees in the back yard blowing down," said Jon Price.

He and his sister were home at the time. They said the event shook the whole house and brought water spewing through the windows.

"There was a lot of wind and since our house is older the windows were rattling," said Maddie Price. "The rain was really loud you couldn’t hear anything."

Vicky Gravley had just finished helping her mom mow the grass. She was on her way home when she got caught in the middle of the storm.

“At that time it was just raining," she said. "No more than I had gotten in the car and pulled right out of her driveway it was white and hail and rain and I couldn’t see and something just hit me.”

She said her car got caught in the power lines. Gravley still isn't sure what hit the windshield, but had she left any sooner she may not still be here to tell the tale. Her windshield was completely smashed on the driver's side.

“If I was a little quicker going down the road, I would have been in the middle of that because that’s right where all of that was in a ball," Gravley said. “I was very, very lucky.”


Friday evening's storm damage may have been caused by a tornado. National Weather Service meteorologists will survey the damage in both Giles and Pulaski counties to determine where the damage was indeed a tornado as reported by several of those in the path, or whether it was a microburst.

The severe storm moved through Giles and Pulaski counties Friday evening with numerous reports of downed trees and power lines.

The National Weather Service radar detected a strong storm that prompted a severe thunderstorm warning for Giles and Pulaski counties just before 7:30 p.m.

During the afternoon, a communications outage at the National Weather Service Blacksburg office meant our area was without high-resolution radar data for several hours. Warnings were issued based on nearby radar data from surrounding radars in Charleston, West Virginia and Raleigh, North Carolina.

The storm moved over Giles county first with reports of hundreds of snapped trees in the White Pine Road and Flat Hollow Road part of the county.

The severe storm then moved into Pulaski county where dozens of trees were snapped and thrown into Alum Springs Road, just north of Pulaski. Power outages were also confirmed.

Damage was also reported earlier Friday afternoon in Moneta where a roof was ripped off a barn and loft apartments and killed a horse in a nearby field.