Mapping Twisters

Published:May 22, 2013 by Brendan Wolfe

Map of Virginia Tornadoes Since 1950 (Peter Hedlund)

Detail of a Map of Virginia Tornadoes Since 1950 (Peter Hedlund)

As we send our best thoughts out to the folks in Moore, Oklahoma, we can’t help but think about tornadoes. The most deadly twister in Virginia history was at Rye Cove, in the Appalachian highlands, on May 9, 1929. Twelve students and a teacher were killed when a tornado slammed into Rye Cove School.

There have been plenty since then, however, and our programmer, Peter Hedlund, has created an interactive map of all tornadoes in Virginia since 1950.

At the top, you’ll see a screen shot of what the map looks like. But you can drill down. The screen shot below shows an F-1 tornado that spun just to the west of Charlottesville, and alarmingly close to the Encyclopedia Virginia World Headquarters.

The deadliest post-1950 tornado, however, was on September 30, 1959. According to the Crozet Gazette:

Few took particular note when, around 2:25 p.m., telephone and electrical service were lost to much of western Albemarle County. After all, there were thunderstorms in the area, and such a temporary inconvenience was not unheard-of. There was no way of knowing at the time that the outage was the result of tornado #1 that had downed trees, power and phone lines northwest of Ivy Depot before vanishing over open ground.

Twelve people died altogether. And if you want to see full-on what the Oklahoma tornado looked like, then check this out:

IMAGES: Two screen shots of a Map of Virginia Tornadoes Since 1950 (Peter Hedlund); Men view the ruins of Rye Cove School, May 9, 1929 (Library of Virginia)