The National Weather Service issued a Tornado Warning for the area just before 6 p.m. EDT Sunday, and not long after the twister was spotted moving through Virginia Beach, officials received calls of downed trees, even one knocking onto a vehicle near Great Neck Middle School and trapping a person inside.
Ed Stonich shot the video below from his porch in Virginia Beach, watching as debris was lofted in the air.
Damage was also seen in a nearby neighborhood.
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"Crews responding to calls for major storm damage to multiple homes," the Virginia Beach Fire Department said Sunday evening. "Reports of multiple homes with gas leaks."
Virginia Beach City Manager Patrick Duhaney declared a local state of emergency Sunday evening after the tornado impacted communities in the northern part of the city. He estimated between 50 and 100 homes were damaged but noted the exact number was unknown.
Video taken in nearby Willoughby Spit shows the tornado. Tyler Anderson, who shot the video, said he couldn’t tell if the twister he spotted was over water or land.
The NWS office in Wakefield, Virginia, confirmed the tornado based on the debris signature on Doppler radar, damage reports and video from the area. A team of meteorologists from the Wakefield office conducted a storm survey on Monday and found the tornado had winds of 145 mph.
The storm survey team said the tornado's path spanned about 4.5 miles, causing major damage to numerous homes along Haverham Close. Homes were shifted off their foundations, exterior walls were collapsed, and many roofs were completely removed.
This tornado is the first EF-3 in the state of Virginia since April 19, 2019, and the first tornado of any intensity in the city of Virginia Beach since March 31, 2017. It's also the 15th tornado overall to impact Virginia Beach since 1950.
In addition, this is the first EF-3 tornado on record for Virginia Beach.