Franklin County Tornado Victims Lucky to be Alive

SONTAG – It didn’t take long Friday for severe storms to develop and move north out of the Carolinas and into Virginia. This time, Franklin County took a direct hit from a likely tornado.

Video shot by Steve Oakes and Brodey Oakes shortly after the tornado hit Sydnorsville and Sontag in Franklin County Friday.

Conditions all day Friday were favorable for tornadoes. Winds near the ground were blowing from the southeast. Winds just a few thousand feet higher were from the south. Even higher, winds were from the southwest.

The first Tornado Warning was issued by the National Weather Service in Blacksburg at 9:52 a.m. for Stokes County in North Carolina and Patrick County in SW Virginia.

As the same storm moved northeast at nearly 50 mph – a very fast speed for a storm – warnings were extended into Henry and Franklin Counties.

Near Oak Level on 220, just north of Stanelytown, radar showed very strong rotation. Minutes later, a rare “donut hole” signature appeared on radar — basically capturing the actual tornado circulation itself. It wasn’t long before debris started to show up on radar as well.

The storm’s circulation made contact with the ground in southern Franklin County near Sydnorsville, destroying a home. The tornado continued NE where it destroyed another home in Sontag. The tornado also swept trees and part of the ball field at the Franklin County Recreation Park in Sontag.

Trees blocked 220 in southern Franklin County and an ambulance that was transporting a patient was hit by falling trees and debris.

An ambulance was struck by falling trees on 220 in Franklin County as the tornado passed overhead.

Two people were injured in Franklin County, but there were no deaths. The National Weather Service will be out surveying damage this weekend and will rate the strength of the tornado and plot the path.

The same storm blew over Burnt Chimney and Westlake, with no contact to the ground. However, just past the North Shore and Westlake area, more damage was reported in Bedford County. Trees and structural damage were likely the result of the circulation re-organizing (they go in cycles) into Bedford County.

Larry and Delores Anderson’s home sits as a pile of rubble with an American Flag and a couple of walls still standing. The roof was completely torn off of the home and tossed into the yard. The basement was mainly intact.

A family member told Cable 12 they were “trying to figure out which way was up still” as they began the initial recovery and cleanup from the tornado.

CLICK HERE: A funding page has been set up for the Anderson family, where you can give a donation.

The same upper low will give us a few showers and storms, some with hail due to very cold air aloft Saturday. Any outdoor plans will be at the mercy of the showers and storms that will quickly pop up later in the afternoon and evening. They’ll be hit-or-miss, but keep an eye to the sky. Nothing like Friday, though.

Other areas across Virginia, from the Richmond area to the Tidewater and into northern Virginia were also under tornado watches and warnings with damage reported in several areas. Wind damage and possible tornado damage extended all the way into South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida Friday.

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