October 14, 2011
After surveying the damage Friday morning, the National Weather Service has confirmed that an EF-1 tornado touched down in the Boswells Tavern area of Louisa County Thursday afternoon.
The twister, with winds 80-90 MPH, first touched down along James Madison Highway (Route 15) near the historic Sylvania Plantation around 3:40 p.m. It had an estimated path length of 0.6 miles and was around 100 yards wide.
The NWS reports the tornado continued to move across the plantation, which is part of the Green Springs National Historic Landmark District, first shearing off several hardwood trees before hitting the Sylvania Plantation home. It ripped off the roof of the 18th century home and destroyed both the front and back porches.
Click Here to watch Bill Bichell's home video of the tornado
Bill Bichell was nearby and decided to play storm chaser, capturing the funnel cloud on video.
"At the time I was really fascinated. I saw something that I had never seen before and probably hope never to see again. I saw [the tornado] form and become bigger," he recalled.
Frank Layman and his wife, Betty, live on the property and manage the historic home for their son-in-law. "It was a shock," Layman told CBS19. "We had no idea it was a tornado until we pulled up in the driveway. It's an old house and I hate to lose history."
The EF-1 uprooted several trees on the property and impacted the pool on the far side of the house, knocking down a fence and wildly tossing pool furniture in all directions.
The tornado then continued away from the pool, reaching a row of trees about one tenth of a mile from the house before lifting off the ground.
The Laymans were met on the property by emergency rescue personnel, the fire department and sheriff's department. While the historic home was damaged, their own home, located about two acres away, remained untouched.
Despite the extensive damage, Layman has been able to keep things in perspective.
"Nobody got hurt. You can't replace people but you can replace houses," he said.
Area law enforcement officers say they had not received any other reports of damage in the area.
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