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Tornado confirmed in Fredericksburg during Friday’s storms

MORE: Read more news from Fredericksburg

A tornado briefly touched down in the vicinity of Cowan Boulevard during Friday night’s storm, according to the The National Weather Service.

After sending a storm-assessment team to the area, the Baltimore-Washington forecast office in Sterling notified Fredericksburg officials Saturday evening that the EF-1 twister moved about three-quarters of a mile along the highway, with peak winds of 90 mph. Under the Enhanced Fujita scale, an EF-1 tornado has winds of 86 to 110 mph.

A roof was damaged on a building at Belmont Terrace off Cowan Boulevard and damage to cars was reported, along with downed trees.

Other areas saw similar damage.

Stu Richards was driving home to Stafford on Friday night when the storm struck.

With trees bending sideways, his wife and two daughters fled to the basement of their home on Summit Terrace, off U.S. 17 in the Hartwood community. Just after the three reached the basement, trees collapsed on the house.

Altogether, Richards said, about a dozen trees fell on his property.

“My pool was smashed, and a car was crushed,” he said.

“We’re not weather experts, but there has been some supposition that it might have been a tornado,” said Richards, who had power restored around 6 p.m. Saturday.

Fredericksburg city code official John Walsh said that that damage in the city followed several different lines.

One ran from the Altoona area, across Route 3 to the Westwood Shopping Center, to Cowan Boulevard.

Another started in the park near Lafayette Boulevard and headed toward an industrial area.

One started downtown, running parallel to Princess Anne Street, with another area of damage in the park near Lafayette, across Lockhart Circle, into the industrial area.

“Your damage reports sort of lined up,” Walsh said.

He said he’d inspected 17 structures Saturday—with damage ranging from missing shingles to more serious problems—and figured about 20 structures were affected by the storm.

“It was a fair amount for a springtime storm,” Walsh said.

Elsewhere in the region, Saturday was clean-up day as well.

In Stafford, Fire and Rescue Department Assistant Chief Mark Doyle said there was no obvious damage visible Saturday that wasn’t reported Friday night.

“We had several homes that were damaged by falling trees and wind,” Doyle said. “We had numerous trees that were down across the roadways.”

Doyle said that while fallen power lines and trees closed some Stafford roads after the storm, those roads were reopened by Saturday morning.

Some homes damaged by the storm are not habitable, Doyle said, and he reminded residents who have storm damage to contact their insurance companies as soon as possible.

According to the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, downed trees closed several park roads on Saturday, including South Lee Drive in the Fredericksburg Battlefield and Stuart Drive on the Chancellorsville Battlefield.

According to a Dominion spokesman, the storm affected about 32,000 Dominion customers in the Fredericksburg area at the height of outages Friday night.

By Saturday morning, only about 4,000 customers were without power, and Dominion hoped to have all restored by this morning.

By Saturday evening, Dominion’s website was reporting fewer than 360 customers without power in Stafford, and 781 in Spotsylvania. Around 39 Dominion customers were still without power in Fredericksburg, and 10 in King George.

Rappahannock Electric Cooperative was reporting 396 Caroline County customers still without power, as well as 41 in Spotsylvania and 58 in Louisa.

Reporter Rusty Dennen and Copy Editor John Warren contributed to this story.

Chelyen Davis: 540/368-5028

cdavis@freelancestar.com

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