CENTREVILLE, Va. — Editor's Note: The video above originally aired April 1, when the National Weather Service confirmed a separate tornado in Tysons Corner.
The National Weather Service confirmed a second tornado hit Virginia during Thursday's severe storms. An EF0 tornado was spotted in Centreville, Virginia on March 31, around 8:21 p.m. No injuries or deaths occurred, but several downed trees were reported as a result of the winds.
The tornado traveled 80 yards, near Cub Run Elementary School. Max winds reached 85 mph and the path width was 30 yards. This tornado was an EF0 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale. The NWS found approximately 15 pine trees were toppled or uprooted at the end of Batavia Drive.
On Friday, NWS confirmed that an EF0 tornado hit in Tysons Corner around 8:41 p.m. traveling 200 yards with max winds of 85 mph. A Sunoco gas station on Chain Bridge Road took quite a big hit from the storm. In terms of structural damage, the roof was tilted down on top of the building, and workers described hiding under the counter until it was safe to come out.
How Common Are Tornados in the DMV?
While tornados in the District itself and neighboring suburbs are rare, anecdotally it feels like we've been hearing more about tornado warnings as of late. In early July 2021, two tornadoes touched down in the D.C. metro region, according to the NWS. An EF0 tornado hit in D.C. while an EF1 touched down in Arlington. Max winds reached 80-90 mph, and thankfully no one was injured during either twister.
The July 1 tornado was only the sixth time in 17 years that a tornado warning including the District proper was issued, according to records kept by Iowa State University. From 2005 - 2021, 436 tornado warnings were issued across the DMV, but only six included the District itself.
According to data from the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center and the Midwestern Regional Climate Center, only three tornadoes above an F0 magnitude have touched down inside the boundaries of Washington, D.C., in the past 50 years – and two of them happened on the same day in 2001.
RELATED: How common are tornadoes in the DMV?
On Sept. 24, 2001, three tornadoes touched ground in D.C. – marking the single most active day of tornadic activity in at least half a century. On that day, an F0, F1 and an F3 tornado hit the District proper, resulting in 57 injuries and two deaths.
Nine tornadoes touched down in the DMV as a whole that day, including an F4 that traveled for 10 miles through Culpeper and Fauquier counties. The damage total of the entire outbreak was estimated at more than $100 million.
What Does NWS Look For To Determine a Tornado?
First, the funnel cloud must have contact with the ground for it to be officially declared a tornado. Trained professionals are also looking for debris to be flying around the bottom of the funnel cloud.
Tornadic winds also leave a pattern of damage, because it's a rotating column of air. As it moves through, it does not produce wind speeds or wind direction evenly as it rolls across a neighborhood. So instead of trees falling in the same direction, they fall in opposite directions. Thus, what's referred to as "circular damage" is a telltale sign of a tornado.
How to Prepare For a Tornado
Have a way to get weather information. Click here to download the WUSA9 App. Be sure you enable location and notification services so we can let you know if there is significant weather in your area. Bring in any outdoor decorations you have up, bring in or tie down your patio furniture, and secure your trash cans to prepare for the winds.
If a tornado warning has been issued for your area, you should take cover immediately. The general rule for tornado safety is go low and stay low, which means go to the lowest level of whatever building you are in, away from windows and crouch in a low position with your head covered.