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National Weather Service: Tornado Touched Down In Fayette County

A black and white photo shows homes and trees damaged by a tornado.
Damage from the Shinnston tornado of June 1944.
West Virginia State Police

The National Weather Service said a tornado touched down Tuesday in Fayette County.

Preliminary damage assessments indicate an EF-2 tornado, with wind speeds up to 130 mph, touched down in the Hico area during Tuesday’s severe weather.

John Peck, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Charleston, explained how the tornado’s strength is calculated.

“Structures, depending on how the structure is built, what the structure is made of, tree damage, things like that,” he said. “We generate an estimated wind speed based off the damage to those indicators.”

No fatalities have been reported statewide from Tuesday’s storms. 

The deadliest tornado in state history occurred in Shinnston on June 23, 1944. It killed 103 people and clocked wind speeds of 206 mph. Today, it would be categorized as an EF-5, the strongest possible tornado.

Tornadoes are ranked according to their wind speeds, from EF-0 at 65 mph to EF-5 at 200 mph. Anything EF-2 or above is considered strong.

Peck said West Virginia sees, on average, one tornado a year.

This week marks the 50-year anniversary of the 1974 Super Outbreak of 148 tornadoes in 13 states in the Midwest and South, killing 335 people.

Though West Virginia was not as severely affected as Kentucky or Ohio in April 1974, a few tornadoes did touch down in southern West Virginia.