A Tropical Storm David Tornado in Fairfax County—September 1979

View More View Less
  • 1 3415 Slade Court, Falls Church, Va. 22042
© Get Permissions
Full access

Tropical Storm David produced numerous tornadoes during its transit up the East Coast in September 1979. One of these occurred in Fairfax County, Virginia, during early evening daylight and in a residential community. A study of this tornado was conducted through ground inspection, personal interviews, examination of low-level aerial photography, and meteorological records. Several eyewitness accounts of this storm are of special interest, considering the general paucity of data on hurricane and/or tropical storm tornadoes. Among such observations were: an isolated break in the overcast immediately south of the tornado, with an echo-free “hole” seen by radar 10 min prior to its formation; an outflow gust front wrapping around the tornadic circulation; and widely varying sound reports. The isolated visual and radar break in the clouds may be a significant forecast indicator of these small, short-lived, but destructive storms.

Tropical Storm David produced numerous tornadoes during its transit up the East Coast in September 1979. One of these occurred in Fairfax County, Virginia, during early evening daylight and in a residential community. A study of this tornado was conducted through ground inspection, personal interviews, examination of low-level aerial photography, and meteorological records. Several eyewitness accounts of this storm are of special interest, considering the general paucity of data on hurricane and/or tropical storm tornadoes. Among such observations were: an isolated break in the overcast immediately south of the tornado, with an echo-free “hole” seen by radar 10 min prior to its formation; an outflow gust front wrapping around the tornadic circulation; and widely varying sound reports. The isolated visual and radar break in the clouds may be a significant forecast indicator of these small, short-lived, but destructive storms.

Save