National Weather Service says two touched down Thursday


After investigating damage from a storm system Thursday that cut trees and damaged homes around Harrington and Milford, the National Weather Service said two tornadoes hit the area late Friday.

NWS confirmed the first tornado in the afternoon on Friday, while officials were still assessing the area. It started near Farmington, south of Harrington. The weather service confirmed that a second tornado touched down east of Milford.

Neither tornado caused injuries, NWS said. Both were EF1 tornadoes, bringing winds from 86 to 110 mph.

The tornado that started near Farmington had estimated peak winds of 90 mph. It started at 4:52 pm and was about 50 meters wide. It traveled less than four miles and ended near Houston about three minutes later, NWS said.

The tornado was caused after “an embedded severe thunderstorm interacted with a sea breeze and a remnant of the outflow boundary,” the weather service said.

Heather Haneline, who lives south of Harrington, said Thursday that she saw two storm systems collide and some clouds swirling near her home.

She said she normally sees some interesting skies in her area when storms roll through, but “has never seen a vortex like this before.”

Story continues below the photo gallery.

The tornado struck, breaking several trees into a narrow swath after they crashed near a Farmington residence. The tornado then moved across railroad tracks and a cornfield before tearing the metal roof of a business as it headed toward S. Dupont Highway. It later crashed into a tree at a house along Hogtown Road and laid power lines along Hunting Quarter Road, NWS said. The tornado weakened and lifted just west of Deep Grass Lane near Houston.

Five minutes later, a second twister from the same system landed east of Milford, near residences at the intersection of Cedar Beach and McColley roads. It also carried estimated peak winds of 90 mph, but was twice the size of the earlier tornado at about 100 feet wide. It traveled nearly five miles and ended in Slaughter Beach.

The tornado cut down several trees and uprooted a few. It lifted part of a porch roof on Shockley Road, according to the weather service, and blew insulation over the road and on nearby homes. Along the path of the storm, a large branch of a tree fell on a barn and collapsed. Fallen branches also caused damage to vehicles.

Residents near the Mils and Shockley roads helped each other on Friday cut down fallen trees, clear debris and make repairs, although professionals were working on a handful of significantly damaged roofs.

“It sounded like a train,” said Jordan Watson, who took shelter with his family in his grandparents’ basement. “Before you know it, it was over.”

AFTERMATH: Neighbors help neighbors after possible tornado damage homes in Milford

East of Watson’s area, the tornado damaged barn roofs and caused the overturning of two closed trailers near Fannies Way before the storm lifted near the shoreline at Slaughter Beach.

The National Weather Service said all information in Friday night’s report is preliminary and subject to change.

The storms mark consecutive years that two tornadoes made landfall in Delaware on the same day. Last year, during Tropical Storm Isaias on August 4, three EF1 tornadoes hit Delaware. One was a record-breaking twister that followed 47.2 miles from Sorghum Mill Road in Kent County to the Middletown area.

IN-DEPTH: The poignant stories of when a record-breaking tornado touched down in Delaware

Another tornado touched down near Felton that same day in August. The NWS later confirmed a third near Milford.

The story continues below the photo gallery of last year’s record tornado.

While the August 2020 twister was the longest-tracking tornado in Delaware in 70 or more years, it was not the largest. In 2019, Laurel saw an EF2 tornado with an estimated maximum wind speed of 120 mph and up to 400 meters wide at one point.

The state also had an EF2 tornado in 2004.

Delaware has averaged about one tornado per year since the 1950s.

Reporter Shannon Marvel McNaught contributed to this story.

Contact Jeff Neiburg at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Jeff_Neiburg.

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