A male employee at the Old Dominion Flooring warehouse in Midlothian was killed when a tornado caused the building to collapse about 3:45 p.m., Chesterfield County Fire Lt. Jason Elmore said during a briefing Monday evening. The Richmond Times-Dispatch identified the victim as 60-year-old Ronnie Bishop.
The National Weather Service surveyed the damage Tuesday afternoon and assigned the deadly Midlothian tornado a rating of EF2 on the Enhanced Fujita scale. The NWS said the twister packed estimated maximum winds of 115 to 125 mph. It was on the ground for 7.5 miles and caused damage in a 350-yard-wide path.
About 3:30 p.m. Monday afternoon, a student was struck by lightning at Central Middle School in Charlotte County, Virginia. There was no word on his condition.
Elmore said another employee at the warehouse — on Speeks Drive at Hull Street in Midlothian, Virginia — was taken to the hospital with minor injuries. About 15 employees were in the building when the tornado struck. He said a bystander was also taken the hospital with a medical emergency unrelated to the tornado.
The tornado caused a furniture store to collapse and damaged roofs and flipped cars at a shopping center near the warehouse, Elmore said. There was a gas leak at the shopping center, too. Responders were waiting for the power company to shut off electricity to the buildings before the leak could be stopped.
Kevin Chevitanon posted a video to Instagram of the scene off Hull Street and wrote, "At ground 0 today. … Police Officer ran me off the road and pointed at the Tornado. People here are still in a state of shock. You could smell gas in the air as we were told to evacuate across the street."
Elmore said three other tornadoes were reported in the area about the same time Monday. He said there was damage in Hampton Park, Birkdale and Beaver Ridge.
Twenty-eight tornado warnings were issued Monday by the National Weather Service office in Wakefield, Virginia. The tornado warnings expired at 5:45 p.m., but Richmond was hit by another severe thunderstorm about 6:30 p.m.
The NWS confirmed an EF0 tornado hit Mecklenburg County shortly after 10:30 a.m. Monday morning. It traveled 9 miles, from Boydton to Chase. News reports said several trees were felled and at least one home was damaged.
Video: 1 Person Dead, Another Hospitalized After Tornado Touches Down in Virginia
Monday afternoon in Chesterfield County, schools that were about to dismiss students as the tornadoes struck instead sheltered in place. WTVR reported that some school buses that had already left were told to return the students to school. Some students were not released to parents until nearly 6:30 p.m. Several colleges in the area also canceled evening classes and events.
Video: Hurricane Florence spawns several reported tornadoes in Virginia
More than 9,000 customers were without power at 5:15 p.m., Dominion Energy Virginia reported. Spokesman David Botkins told the Times-Dispatch there was extensive damage to utility poles, transformers and wires.
The Wakefield NWS office said it plans to send crews out beginning Tuesday to survey the damage and determine how many tornadoes touched down and their ratings on the Enhanced Fujita scale.
The remnants of Florence are interacting with a warm, humid airmass in place over the mid-Atlantic states, weather.com meteorologist Brian Donegan said. Wind shear – the change in wind speed and/or direction with height – was high across the region, leading to the development of multiple tornadoes Monday afternoon.
“We were able to get close enough to be able to see the deceased individual to realize that they were already deceased and that we didnt have to go in and to try to do anything,” Elmore said.
The remnants of Florence hit areas around I-95 in Virginia hard on Monday, and theres more wet weather to come before the storm clears.
Flash flood watches remain in effect through early Tuesday in D.C. and parts of Maryland and Virginia. Areas along I-81 in Virginia, including Winchester, Frederick County and Rappahannock County, are under a flood watch until the early hours of Tuesday morning. See all regional alerts here.
The Tuesday morning commute may be wet, but most of the storms will come through after lunchtime. Some of those storms could be strong with heavy rain, the National Weather Service said.
In the D.C. area, rainfall amounts will be around an inch or less, Storm Team4 says. The Shenandoah Valley could see up to 3 inches of rain, with the heaviest most likely Monday afternoon and possible again later Tuesday. The rain will come to an end Tuesday night.
Florence remnants spawn deadly tornadoes in Richmond area
One person died in a building collapse after reports that multiple tornadoes touched down near Richmond, Virginia. The National Weather Service said that storm weakened and ended tornado warnings in the area.
Businesses inspect damage, reflect on tornado
Once the storm is out of the area, well get what may be our final taste of summer. Wednesday and Thursday will be sunny and warm, with temperatures in the mid-80s. Temperatures could reach 89 degrees Friday.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam warned residents in the southwest part of the state to prepare for flooding and possible landslides early this week. Northam said in a news release Saturday that emergency management officials were working to move people and commodities into place to prepare for flooding, including swift water rescue teams.
By Monday, rainfall amounts were not looking to be as heavy as previously expected for southwest Virginia. Its now looking like southwest Virginia may get 1 to 2 inches of rain; however, it could still get as much as 6 inches in some spots.
Chesterfield, Henrico, Hanover schools release students after multiple tornado warnings
The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is recommending that drivers monitor weather and road conditions as the remnants of Florence move through parts of the commonwealth.
“Drivers should exercise caution as recent rain and ground saturation have resulted in flooded roads and downed trees,” VDOT said in a release Monday.
To report downed trees or hazardous road conditions, go to my.vdot.virginia.gov or call VDOT at 800-FOR-ROAD (800-367-7623).
Emergency officials in Virginia have also deployed 25 high-wheeled vehicles and 50 personnel to help with rescue operations in North Carolina.