EASTERN SHORE, Va. (WAVY) — After reports of devastating storm damage on the Eastern Shore Thursday morning, the National Weather Service sent a team to survey the destruction.
The NWS in Wakefield, Va. confirmed an EF-1 tornado, straight line winds and a large swath of hail moved across Northampton County, specifically in the Cape Charles, Cherrystone, Cheriton and Oyster areas.
Based on photographs, surveyors believe the tornado formed around 8:25 a.m. in the Chesapeake Bay, a few miles west of Cherrystone Campground. The damage survey states the funnel moved east, hitting the northern part of the campground and then crossed Old Cherrystone Road and U.S. Route 13. It lifted around 8:40 a.m. near Seaside Road, close to the Northampton Landfill.
The tornado’s path was about 150 yards wide and spanned about 8 miles.
The 80 to 100 MPH winds inside the funnel caused a multitude of trees to fall or snap and land on cabins, tents, and camping trailers. The campground, in some areas, was described by campers as looking like a war zone.
A married couple from New Jersey was killed at the scene when a tree fell on their tent. Their 13-year-old son recieved life-threatening injuries and is still undergoing treatment at the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters.
The tornado hurt 36 more people at the campground, with injuries ranging from minor cuts and bruises to life-threatening.
The damage survey results also credited straight line winds of 65 to 75 MPH as causing damage from Cherrystone into Cape Charles and then east through Cheriton and Oyster. Many trees were downed, snapped or large limbs blown off. Some landed on homes and others caused overturned camping trailers at the campground.
Golf ball-sized hail and some baseball-sized hail fell near the campground all the way to Oyster. This caused a lot of leaf debris, noticeable crop damage and some damage to the siding on a number of homes, according to the NWS.
State and local first responders will remain at Cherrystone Campground overnight Thursday, as clean up continues. According to Virginia State Police, no one will be allowed back into the grounds overnight. The American Red Cross is assisting displaced campers.