Rare Tornado In West Virginia

We were on the last leg of our round trip across the country heading back to Cape Cod when a rare tornado in West Virginia caught up with us.

In Mississippi, we ran into a springtime storm system tracking northeast that the radio weather folks promised to bring tornadoes. As we moved deeper into the night, ragged lightning to our west mingled with heat lightning all across the sky. I had never seen such a display.

All the next day it rained with gusting winds. We were on a push to get home but the weather deteriorated even more. We had been driving, stopping to get a little sleep, and then driving some more. As nightfall came, we crossed into southern West Virginia.

With a full day of up and down winding roads, and being buffeted by the winds, we were tired. We found a place to pull off the roadway, and bedded down for the rest of the night.

We woke suddenly to our dogs barking, and our van shaking. I first thought someone was standing on the rear bumper jumping up and down. A deafening noise then joined the very strong winds shaking us. And they increased. I thought, “Tornado!”

It was upon us. With no time to prepare or react. And we were scared. Scared frozen. And trapped. I was certain we would leave the ground. We seemed to be levitating. Here we come, Lord!

Then, all was still. The sound of the wind faded as it rushed on ahead. The whole event couldn’t have lasted even a minute.

We were wide awake now, and needed a restroom. We gathered our frayed nerves and made coffee as the sky began to dawn. Then, we drove on.


Heading down the two-lane highway between steep ridges, tree debris cluttered the roadway. We were able to drive around the larger branches.

Near sunrise and just a few miles from where we had pulled over for the night, we entered a small community nestled in a clearing.

It was a rare tornado touch down in West Virginia.

Some buildings had been demolished. Nothing was left but torn plumbing sticking up through concrete foundations. Lumber and pink insulation hung in trees no different than what hurricane winds and flood surge will do.

Locals and rescue personnel were busy searching the area. The path the tornado took down the forested ridge, through the tiny hamlet, and on again through the woods was clearly visible. Many trees were stripped of leaves, and had broken limbs, or were snapped clean at mid trunk.

We didn’t see any of the injured, if there were any. A kind of delayed shock settled on us. How fortunate we had been. We counted our blessings.

This same storm system produced an F5 tornado that did a massive amount of damage to the town and people of Xenia, Ohio.

Have you ever been in a violent storm? Let me know.