NWS: EF-0 tornado confirmed near Smith Mountain Lake

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UPDATE: The National Weather Service says an EF-0 tornado caused damaged in Bedford County Friday morning.

The tornado began to develop over Smith Mountain Lake and touched down for only 2 minutes, and traveled less than a half a mile before lifting again. The tornado downed trees, and caused minor roof damage and blew out windows to a few houses. The NWS estimates top winds of 85mph.

With piles of cracked branches and roots ripped right out of the ground, it was a long day of cleanup at Bernard’s Landing along Smith Mountain Lake in Franklin County.

“It was just one heck of a wind storm,” said Kelly Kingery of Precision Excavating and Gunner Construction. “They can’t take so much pressure, and they’ll start falling apart.”

Kingery and his crew were nowhere close to finishing cleanup of downed trees Friday afternoon. They have a long list of clients waiting for help, Kingery said.

“There’s not much you can do about Mother Nature,” he said. “She comes through, and we come calling to clean up her mess.”

“The last time I’ve seen a storm like this really, I remember I was at the clubhouse,” said Brandon Cochran, who grew up at Bernard’s Landing. “I was probably about 4.”

Trees were toppled at one of his family’s favorite spots on the lake.

“I used to tell my children when they were younger that that was Cochran’s Creek,” said Marilyn Cochran, who used to live at Bernard’s Landing. “It was always so beautiful. We just never experienced anything like this.”

“It shows…the power of the storm really,” said Brandon Cochran. “‘Cause this never happened. I’ve never seen a tree uprooted.”

The National Weather Service has visited the lake area to assess the damage. The group is not called out to the lake too often, according to officials, but dangerous weather is not impossible.

“People just need to be alert when they go to bed at night, just kind of be aware of what the weather forecast is, if there’s any watches for tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, and have a weather radio or some way to get that weather alert in the middle of the night,” said Steve Keighton of the National Weather Service.

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ORIGINAL STORY: Friday afternoon the National Weather Service in Blacksburg said it would be surveying storm damage at Smith Mountain Lake.

Reports of wind damage around Smith Mountain Lake started rolling in before 5:00 am Friday, but the survey teams were looking into storm damage in North Carolina earlier in the day. They confirmed an EF-1 tornado with 110mph winds touched down just south of the Virginia state line in the town of Eden, NC. That’s about 30 miles southeast of South Boston, VA.

That same same cluster of storms moved into Virginia and reportedly produced roof damage to several condos near Bernard’s Landing and along Scruggs Road. On the north side of the lake, there are several reports of large trees snapped and downed. The most significant report so far has been a home that has roof damaged and had its windows blown out by wind.

The NWS survey team will look around the area to determine whether a tornado or straight-line winds caused the damage. They will also assess the extinct of damage to estimate how strong the winds were.

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