In the early 1960’s I was in junior high school in Virginia Beach. We were in school when the infamous Ash Wednesday n’easter hit the beach, taking out houses in the expensive north end and obliterating houses on the beach in Sandbridge. The resort area of the beach had a boardwalk and two piers, all of which were severely damaged, putting large pier pilings through the lower floors of hotels and filling shops and hotels with sand and water. They held us at school to assess how to get us home. The military used amphibious vehicles to get people in and out. My Dad at some point, because our house was on the Lynnhaven River, had taken a string level out from the lowest point of our house and nailed a bright red disk on a live oak at that height. We watched the water rise closer and closer to that disk, wondering where we could go if we had to abandon our home. The house was a split level and the garage, utility room, a work room, and my Dad’s office were on that lowest level, the rest of the house safely above the rising tides. The water lapped on the sidewalk around the side of the house, barely reached the outer most corner and no trees fell on the house. We were safe, but many others in our area were not.
Today is Ash Wednesday and the storms that ripped through Illinois, Arkansas, Kansas, and Kentucky last night are threatening us today. Most of the threat is south and west of us, but local schools closed 2 1/2 hours early, we have secured items like we did on the coast for a hurricane, bringing what we could into the garage. Wind gusts of 60 mph buffeted us as we went in to get granddaughter from preschool and back to pick up grandson from the school bus. The roads are littered with branches. We have not seen the predicted hail. The temperature fell 15º as the front started through and we will see seasonable temperatures for the remainder of the week. It is raining, hard off and on, the wind gusting at times. So far we have seen no reports of tornadoes, but a few years back, a local community was devastated by one, so they do occur in the mountains. We ride this one out, having a safe spot low on our basement stairs, interior away from windows, supplied with flash lights, water, and a battery/crank generated radio. Hopefully this will pass with nothing more than a few downed trees and power outages in our area.
Virginia Beach 1962
Pulaski tornado April 2011