The National Weather Service (NWS) performed a storm survey Thursday afternoon and ruled that Wednesday afternoon’s storm damage in Petersburg was caused by strong winds, not a tornado.
A tornado warning was issued around 3:25 p.m. Wednesday for Petersburg and the surrounding areas. Doppler radar indicated rotation in the thunderstorm, which showed that a tornado was possible. The warning lasted through 4 p.m.
Damage reports from the area were of wind damage, primarily fallen trees. Areas that reported damage included Oak Hill Estates, Braebrook Village, Greenwood Farms, the city of Petersburg, Westover Park, Parkview, Westchester & Prince George Golf Course. This damage was evaluated by the NWS, and due to the pattern created by the strong winds, it was ruled that a tornado did not cause the damage.
“Straight-line winds” occur when a huge gust of wind drops down from the thunderstorm, hits the ground, and then moves horizontally over the ground, away from the thunderstorm. These winds can range from 20 m.p.h. over 70 m.p.h. Widespread damage can occur, and can sometimes be worse than weak tornado damage (which is more localized).