Virginia Beach EF-3 tornado spanned over 4.5 miles in 5 minutes damaging about 115 homes

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Posted at 11:59 AM, May 02, 2023

Massive clean up efforts are underway after an EF-3 tornado hit the Great Neck area of Virginia Beach Sunday night, which prompted the city to declare a local state of emergency.



WATCH: New drone video shows destruction from EF-3 tornado in Great Neck area

Jay Greene
4:03 PM, May 01, 2023

Vehicles were overturned, boats sank and homes sustained serious damage as a result of the tornado. The city estimates that there's been more than $15 million in residential damage with nine homes destroyed, 36 homes with major damage that are now uninhabitable, and many more with "significant damage."

The public damage assessment estimate reaches $731,000 so far, according to the city, and does not include the damage at JEB Little Creek-Fort Story.

The National Weather Service (NWS) has surveyed the area, and says the worst of it at Haversham Close saw 145 mile per hour winds, making it an EF-3 tornado.

The NWS said houses shifted off of their foundations and upper floors were completely removed from houses.

Tornado's path, other details from National Weather Service

According to the National Weather Service, the tornado had a span of 4.5 miles with a wind peak of 145 mph. The width of the tornado stood at 350 yards.

The tornado's path started in the Eastern Branch of Lynnhaven River at 5:48 p.m. and ended in Fort Story at 5:53 p.m.

The tornado progressed up River Road as an EF-1, passing by the Great Neck Recreation Center.

It increased to an EF-2 intensity, as it moved into the Chelsea neighborhood.

The tornado continued onto Haversham Close with EF-3 intensity.

In this area, several homes were shifted off their foundations and roofs and upper walls were completely removed.

The tornado then crossed Broad Bay and the eastern portion of Bay Island, clipping windward shore drive as an EF-1.

It then moved over First Landing State Park and into Fort Story as an EF-1, snapping trees, damaging barracks, and damaging several other builds before moving offshore.

Jeff Orrock with National Weather Service surveyed the impacted areas.

"The most impressive damage that we saw was the really well built brick homes. These homes are built into a hurricane zone. So there is a higher wind code here so you’re seeing these houses that have been lifted up and moved off their foundation," Orrock told News 3's Leondra Head.

Here’s more on what you need to know:

  • The following schools in Virginia Beach were closed on Monday, May 1: Cox High School, Great Neck Middle School and John Dey Elementary School. Students zoned for the three schools who attend academies or special programs at other schools were also excused. These schools have since reopened.
  • There is a temporary shelter open at the Great Neck Recreation Center for residents who were impacted by the storm, according to city personnel. Residents are allowed to bring their pets. The center’s address is 2521 Shorehaven Drive, and it’s only open to those impacted by the tornado.
  • Fort Story has been impacted, and only essential personnel should report today as crews continue to assess the damage. Little Creek is open as normal.
  • Great Neck Road is closed between Cox High School and the bridge at Adam Keeling Road until further notice.
  • So far, no injuries have been reported.

Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares toured the damage on Monday. He said anyone who believes they might be a victim of price gouging to lodge a complaint at this link.

"We take all of those incredibly seriously," he said. "Our office will absolutely take that and investigate it. If somebody's doing it, we'll hold them accountable."

For more information from the City of Virginia Beach, click here.

Stay with News 3 for updates.