Wednesday marks one year since Kanawha County tornadoes

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Wednesday marked the one-year anniversary of the last recorded tornado in West Virginia and the first one in Kanawha County in several years.

On June 24, 2019, shortly before 7 p.m., an EF1 tornado with winds up to 100 mph traveled 11 miles from the Lincoln Co./Kanawha Co. line just southwest of Alum Creek northeast through Kanawha Co., in the vicinity of US 119 before dissipating along the Kanawha River on Charleston’s East End.

In the same evening, an EF0 tornado with wind speeds around 80 mph touched down just after 7 p.m. that night near Spring Hill Cemetery traveling less than one mile and ending at the southern edge of Yeager Airport property.

“The fact that it went through one of our more populated areas, a lot of times, especially around here with the state being more rural you do not see a lot of impact from tornadoes,” NWS Charleston meteorologist Nick Webb told MetroNews on Wednesday about significance of the EF1 storm.

Webb said he remembers being in the office on the Monday late afternoon when that the first tornado hit.

“It was a broken line that came up from the southwest and moved northeast fairly quickly. It developed a circulation on it as it got into northeast Lincoln County and that’s when we put the tornado warning out,” Webb said.

He said the tornado came within 300 yards of the NWS office near US 119. The storm wreaked havoc through Berry Hills Country Club in Charleston and the South Hills community before hitting the East End around the state Capitol.

The EF1 tornado, which Webb said was 0.2 miles wide during its 11-mile path, the EF0 tornado and a microburst in the Sissonville area brought around 27,000 power outages in the county that night.

The microburst had winds up to 80 and 90 mph and formed off of a long supercell in the northern part of the county, Webb said.

“Actually that had as much or just as much damage from that than we did the tornado that traveled out of Lincoln County and into Charleston,” he said.

Last year we were taking shelter from a tornado that passed about 300 yards from the office. Rated EF-1, this twister traversed generally along and just east of the 119 corridor out of Lincoln County and into Kanawha, affecting the east side of Charleston. 👀#wvwx

— NWS Charleston, WV (@NWSCharlestonWV) June 24, 2020

There were no reports of injuries during the storms, according to Webb. He said that is remarkable but also the reason citizens should take tornado warnings seriously.

He said the proper precautions during a tornado warning include to seek shelter, go into an interior room and stay calm and away from windows.

“It occurred in the day, in the late afternoon where everyone is probably headed home for the day. It went through parts of a golf course,” Webb said of the EF1.

“The fact that we didn’t get any injuries from that just goes to show you that probably most people heeded the warning.”

Webb said the state typically sees around two tornadoes in one year that are EF1 or EF0. He said the last tornado above that range was in March 2012 in Wayne County.