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2 tornado paths confirmed by weather service in Montgomery County
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2 tornado paths confirmed by weather service in Montgomery County

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The National Weather Service confirmed two tornado paths in Montgomery County following Tuesday night’s storms spawned by the remnants of Hurricane Ida.

The first, southeast of Radford near Interstate 81, was 1.7 miles in length. The second, just northwest of Merrimac, was 0.2 mile in length. Each was rated EF-1 with 90 to 95 mph maximum winds. EF-1 is the second weakest of six levels on the Enhanced Fujita Scale.

A funnel cloud was also seen on Southgate Drive near Virginia Tech, but witnesses were unable to tell if it touched down, Montgomery County emergency services reported. No damage was found near the university, Brandon Winesett, the county’s deputy coordinator for emergency services, wrote in an email.

Montgomery County was placed under two different tornado warnings Tuesday evening, about an hour apart. The first warning, just before 7 p.m., resulted from radar indication of tight rotation and a spotter sighting of the tornado southeast of Radford. That tight rotation on radar and several sightings of rotating cloud formations continued into Blacksburg.

The second warning an hour later resulted in no reports of tornadoes or damage.

The first tornado touched down near the intersection of Stanley Road and Dove Drive about 5 miles southeast of Radford, the weather service reported. It traveled in a north-northeast direction for 1.7 miles, snapping several hardwood trees and damaging a barn just south of I-81, lifting near Tyler Road.

The second tornado formed as the storm moved down Price Mountain near Merrimac Road, the weather service survey found. It uprooted several trees and destroyed a swing in a short path less than a quarter-mile long.

The paths of both tornadoes were 75 yards wide.

As rain fell Tuesday night, Montgomery County experienced flooding in some areas, and there were two motor vehicle crashes blamed on water on the road, Winesett wrote.

Craig County, Roanoke County, Roanoke and Salem, which were all under weather alerts at some point, reported little to no damage or disruptions. Craig County officials said they saw some minor flooding in low-lying areas where flooding is common. Roanoke County and Salem fielded no Ida-related emergency calls.

Roanoke officials said the city dealt with some downed wires Wednesday morning but otherwise seemed to escape the foul weather unscathed. The city had a handful of power outages, about 40, by mid-afternoon, according to Appalachian Power data.

Outages were equally limited in other parts of the region. Montgomery County had the highest number, with about 370.

A flash flood watch was lifted Wednesday afternoon and the tornado threat moved northeast with Ida’s circulation center, with several reported in Maryland.

Rainfall totals of 1 to 3 inches were reported in many areas west and northwest of Roanoke, and also along the Blue Ridge south of Roanoke. Amounts between one-half and 1 inch were common in the immediate Roanoke area and eastward.

Tornado warnings were also issued for Carroll County early Tuesday evening and for Bedford and Botetourt counties around 10 p.m. Tuesday, based on radar indications of possible tornadoes, but no major damage had been reported in those areas.

Cooler, drier weather began moving into the region late Wednesday behind a cold front trailing Ida. Lows in the 50s and highs in the 70s to lower 80s are expected into the weekend. Some outlying areas could see upper 40s lows by Friday and Saturday mornings.

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Since 2003, Kevin Myatt has penned the weekly Weather Journal column, and since 2006, the Weather Journal blog, which becomes particularly busy with snow. Kevin has edited a book on hurricanes and has helped lead Virginia Tech students on storm chases.

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