Federal Meteorologists Say EF-2 Tornado With 120 mph Winds Tore Through Delaware

National Weather Service investigators determine that an EF-2 tornado touched down in Laurel, Delaware, early Monday

What to Know

  • A string of early Monday morning storms left a line of damage across part of Laurel, Delaware.
  • National Weather Service investigators determined that at least an EF-2 tornado with maximum winds of 120 mph.
  • Businesses and homes were damaged and at least one person was hurt.

Severe storms that moved through the tri-state area spawned a tornado that left a line of damage across a Delaware town Monday morning.

The tornado touched down around 3:38 a.m. Monday in Laurel, Delaware, which is close to the state's southern border with Maryland.

The tornado's path stretched about 6.2 miles from Laurel into Seaford, tearing off roofs and downing trees along the way, the National Weather Service said. It had a maximum width of 50 yards.

One person suffered minor injuries and three people had to be rescued from a home where a tree fell on it, local firefighters said.

A preliminary review of images from the town and computer data led federal meterologists to classify the twister as an EF-1 with maxiumum winds of 95 mph.

Monday afternoon, the National Weather Service revised its assessment saying the tornado was stronger. They changed the classification to an EF-2 with maximum winds of 120 mph.

Tornados are rated using the Enhanced Fujita Scale, named after researcher Tetsuya Theodore Fujita, with intensity measured by the amount of damage caused by the storm. The scale runs from zero to five, the most violent that carries winds of 200 mph or higher.

A line of disaster is left in Laurel, Delaware, by strong storms overnight. National Weather Service investigators will need to determine if a tornado touched down or if straight-line winds tore off roofs and left debris across fields.

The Laurel tornado tore off the roof of an Utz Snacks facility and a delivery truck was toppled onto its side. Across U.S. Route 13, a farm building was destroyed. Some homes along Seaford Road had roofs and walls torn off and trees uprooted.

The National Weather Service poured over video and images to make its determination.

Delaware state officials had tips for residents who suffered storm damage:

  • Ensure everyone is safe and it is safe to enter the area
  • Contact your insurance company before you begin cleaning up or making repairs
  • Take pictures of any damage you see
  • After you’ve taken photographs, make repairs that will prevent further damage (cover broken windows, damaged walls, and leaking roofs), but DO NOT make permanent repairs

If you suffer property loss, your insurance company should inspect the property first and an agreement should be reached on the cost of permanent repairs. Save all receipts, including those from temporary repairs, for your insurance adjuster. With proper documentation and your full cooperation, you can avoid delays in processing your claims.

“I’d like to emphasize the importance of taking the aforementioned actions when making a claim with your insurance company,” Delaware Insurance Commissioner Navarro said. “These are important steps that will greatly assist you if the need arises to make a claim. The storm last night that brought significant damage to parts of Sussex County and some other areas of our state is a reminder that these events can happen with little or no warning, and change lives forever.”

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