SPC Stats

Path length: 18.1 miles

Width:  350 yards

Fatalities:  1

Injuries:  7

Rating:  EF2

County:  Halifax

Tornado Path

SPC coordinates:  36.7825 / -79.0945 End: 36.9796 / -78.8786

Corrected coordinates Based on Analysis of Aerial and Satellite Imagery:

Start:  36.767430 / -79.0945    End: 36.990926 / -78.866577 

Note:  Exact tornado path may not be straight and/or continuous.

Summary

A tornado skipped through north-central Halifax County, VA, crossing into extreme western Charlotte County. It remained in rural areas but caused major damage along Liberty Road near Nathalie. One person was killed, and seven others were injured as the tornado decimated three trailers.

The tornado began in western Halifax County, 11 miles west of the town of Halifax. Minor tree damage occurred with sporadic snapping and uprooting of trees being observed for the first four miles of the path. It intensified as it crossed a small lake about a mile NW of Plato, where an area of nearly 100% tree fall was observed. More sporadic tree damage was noted as it moved northeast through marshy and wooded areas until it reached Stovall Trail. Here, a tree fell onto a house, and a mobile home was destroyed.

Significant treefall northwest of Plato (NWS Blacksburg).

The tornado then crossed Highway 501, two miles NW of Youngers Store, and then immediately moved across Liberty Road at peak intensity. Here, three mobile homes were obliterated. Rachael Coleman, her five kids, and her boyfriend Garnett Lloyd were in one of the trailers. They saw the tornado as it approached, so they ran outside and dove under the structure. It was thrown 50 yards and disintegrated. All seven sustained injuries. Garnett was struck in the head by a flying lawnmower, and Rachael was knocked out when a tire rim hit her. 55-year-old Shirleen Howard was in a neighboring mobile home. She was thrown from the house as it was vaulted onto the road. Tragically Shirleen was killed. Further northeast on Liberty Road, no less than four houses sustained varying degrees of damage. Outbuildings were destroyed, and significant tree damage was observed.

An aerial shot of Liberty Road (Virginia Department of Emergency Management).
Aerial image of the three destroyed mobile homes on Liberty Road (Virginia Department of Emergency Management).
Ground level picture of what remained of a mobile home's foundation, on Liberty Road (Virginia Department of Emergency Management).

The tornado continued northeast, causing minor damage to one home and blowing down more trees until it reached Highway 603, halfway between Lennig and Nathalie. It crossed Highway 603 along Joe Crews Trail, causing heavy damage to several farm buildings. A house and a mobile home sustained roof damage.

An aerial photo of the damage to the buildings on Joe Crews Trail (Virginia Department of Emergency Management).

From here, the tornado skipped toward the northeast and weakened as it produced spotty areas of tree damage east of Nathalie. One more structure, a concrete block building near the intersection of Moore Trail and Clarkton Road, was destroyed. The tornado crossed the Roanoke River into extreme western Charlotte County, where it lifted.

Additional Images via the Virginia Department of Emergency Management

Downed trees surrounding a house on Highway 501.
Minor tree damage at a property on Highway 501.
A brick home that sustained minor damage on Liberty Road.
A house on Liberty Road that was damaged; note the significant tree damage behind it.
Residents sifting through the remains of their leveled trailer.
Debris scattered across a roadway.
An SUV that was damaged.
An aerial photo of a damaged house on Liberty Road.
A two-story barn that was unroofed.

Video

Discrepancies:

We gathered information for this event from the SPC and NCDC Databases, the April 2011 Storm Data Publication (SDP), and analysis of satellite and aerial imagery and found the following discrepancies:

Path Length:

  • The SPC/NCDC/SDP list a path length of 18.1 miles.
  • Analysis of the damage revealed a 21.3 mile track.

    Path Width:

    • The SPC/NCDC/SDP list a maximum width of 350 yards.
    • Analysis of the damage indicates a maximum width of 550 yards.

      Counties:

      • The SPC/NCDC/SDP document this in Halifax County.
      • Analysis of the damage shows that this crossed from Halifax County into Caroline County.

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