Bayview tornado that peeled roofs should open eyes

Published 9:42 am Saturday, January 7, 2023

Wednesday afternoon the National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm warning for a line of thunderstorms moving through the region, with a statement that a tornado was possible.

As the storm made its way through Beaufort County, high winds snapped the trunks of pine trees three feet in diameter, ripped a tin roof from a barn, throwing it almost 25 yards, and tore shingles from the roofs of several homes.

Power was knocked out for hours at almost 200 homes.

It started on the south side of the river where it was photographed near Nutrien in Aurora. It was observed as a waterspout as it crossed the Pamlico and touched down briefly in Bayview before lifting back up into the sky.

Thursday, as residents near Bayview Golf Course picked up limbs and other storm debris, officials from the NWS were on site to investigate damages.

Later that evening, they confirmed what was widely suspected. Much of the damage resulting from the storm was caused by a tornado, classified as an EF-1.

Why is it so important to backtrack a storm, to go through all the trouble of determining if rotational winds or straight winds were responsible for damages?

Because, as Beaufort County Emergency Services director Chris Newkirk points out, tornados have historically been one of the most difficult weather components to identify and predict with advance notice.

The thorough, methodical approach by the National Weather Service is how they’re able to hone their craft.

“By going out and assessing these sites they get to compare what happened in realty to what their forecast models and software systems indicated,” Newkirk said.

In short, study of today’s storms help lead to better warnings in the future.

Beaufort County was fortunate to escape Wednesday’s tornado with no reported injuries.

But the storm also served as a reminder that weather can present dangerous situations on short notice, during any season.

Newkirk encourages signing up for local weather alerts from an app such as those offered by weather sites, the Red Cross or local television stations.

The National Weather Service also offers a mobile alert system.

“A service that the NWS provides is iNWS, which the public may sign up for to receive all kinds of alerts from the National Weather Service, including severe thunderstorm warnings.,” according to the NWS. “Tornado warnings automatically alert cell phones, though severe thunderstorm warnings do not. If folks want more than just tornado warnings sent to their phones, they are encouraged to sign up for iNWS.”

For more information, visit https://inws.ncep.noaa.gov.

Ashley Vansant is the publisher at the Washington Daily News. He can be reached at publisher@thewashingtondailynews.com.