Tornado Warning on 19 April 2019

Unstable weather predicted on target by NOAA and NWS

On April 19th 2019, the weather was quite unsettled. The winds were picking up as a cold front enters the area. The National Oceanic and Atmosperic Administration,(NOAA) along with the National Weather Service (NWS)  calls for some storms, some becoming strong or severe.

Looking to the sky after 2pm, it looked calmer with mixed clouds – nothing to be concerned about. After 5pm, I hopped on the PC, surfed over to NOAA weather and read the update. It looks like they are holding their stance about the storms. Nothing against NOAA and the NWS, but the radar is not the best.

I surfed over to another weather site to take a peak to see what the cold front was looking like. I see a defined cold front line heading our way. Looking a bit to my South East, I can see part of the line moving quicker than the rest of the storm, indicating some stronger winds, probably straight line winds. The storm  overall is moving at 35mph, so these straight line winds were probably pushing 60-70 mph or faster.

The cold front associated with the tornado warnings on 19 April 2019.
The cold front associated with the tornado warnings on 19 April 2019.

As the night went on, winds picked up and the sky grew ominous. when clouds in the sky start to look like rolled up cotton, that is a sure sign the winds were going to pick up and be very strong. I told the rest of the people in the house to prepare for some strong storms.  I asked that they ensure the deck in the back did not have anything loose to fly away and that any fragile plants be put in shelter.  I added that in case we do get severe weather, the plan is to get into the finished basement in the master bath area since the door is more secure and does not open outward. It offers decent protection should something very serious happen.

Newport News, VA Tornado warning April 19th 2019

As you can see in the image above, as night comes, and the cold front approaches the coast, the warm weather and colder masses of water made a relative thin cold front widen to about 10 miles. Looking at this at 8:27pm I was about to head upstairs and let the others know the front was about to hit.  Suddenly, my cellphone starts screaming at me.

The National Weather Service issues a tornado warning pretty close to our location.
The National Weather Service issues a tornado warning pretty close to our location.

Several seconds later the office Lan line phone rings and a message plays. The message comes from the City of Newport News. It says we are located in an area where a tornado warning has been issued.  I started up the stairs, and opened up the front door. My son is at the top of the stairs and I asked if everyone received the same alert on the phones. He said yes. That’s a good sign, everyone is aware of the situation.

I told everyone the plan for severe weather and what vital things should be ready to go.  This is why it is vital to have a small grab and go kit, to include any medications, a small amount of water and some fruit or snacks just in case something goes wrong. The area we live has had its fair share of extreme weather, to include a massive flash flood event back in 2012, along with some pretty severe gusty thunderstorms. Spring weather here in Virginia can keep you on your toes. Our other weather events are on this blog as well.

Keeping an ear and eyes out on the storm as it passes was everyone’s job. We knew the storm was slightly South West of us heading North East. My son and I seen the storm popping lightning to our right, wind and rain was whipping down the side street extremely fast. It was getting dark and seeing any sort of rotation within the clouds was very difficult.  I looked over to the other side street about 100 feet to the left and the wind and rain was going in the total opposite direction. Yeah, this was definitely something unusual. This vortext passes about 200-300 yards to our North East and in 2-3 minutes, maybe less, it is gone and out of sight. The wind was confused and the rain was nearly sideways at times. We dodged a severe event by 2-3 football fields.

On Monday 22 April 2019, I went to NOAA weather online to see that they had indeed been in the area looking for signs of tornadoes. Here is a photo of what NOAA and the National Weather service assessed of the storm and possible tornado that passed through at 830pm on 19 April 2019.

Assessment of weather in the Newport News, VA area on 19 April 2019
Assessment of weather in the Newport News, VA area on 19 April 2019

I also notice that on the West side of the James River behind us, there was another tornado that touched down just minutes before. With NOAA and NWS saying that the tornado that approached the Newport News area probably started out as a water spout, and then coming ashore – – it could have easily been the tornado that touched down in Smithfield area, lifted, and then came back down as in came East crossing the James River.

Smithfield, VA Tornado Warning assessment by NOAA and NWS 19 April 2019
Smithfield, VA Tornado Warning assessment by NOAA and NWS 19 April 2019

I haven’t found the time to connect the dots between both of these low grade tornadoes, but this has happened in the past – twice , now potentially three times since 2007. On one occasion near Surry, VA a tornado hopped the James River and landed near the South side of Fort Eustis, crossed Interstate 64 and pancaked a few highway signs.

Take a look at this flash flood event that happened in 2012. It could happen to you. 

Another severe storm hit us in July 2014. They are quick, nasty and can ruin your life in a heartbeat.

On another occasion, a tornado traveled a similar path and ended up destroying a lot of property in Glouster, VA.

In these Spring storms, don’t take anything for granted, and if NOAA and the Nation Weather forecasters are giving out alerts take eyes to the sky and know that storms can shift direction in an instant.

Keep safe, secure and have a plan.

Weather from the experts

The National Weather Service – Climate Prediction Service

Weather at a glance and potential severe weather outlooks

Visit the NOAA weather / National Weather Service website. Put in your zip code to the top left to see your local weather.