The tornado that caused just under $8 million in damage to residential homes, two deaths and 24 injuries in Gloucester County could have had wind speeds as high as 165 miles per hour, according to the National Weather Service in Wakefield.
The storm completely destroyed eleven homes in the county and damaged over 200 others, according to the latest figures provided by Emily Ashley, Gloucester’s emergency services coordinator.
Dan Proch, NWS meteorologist, stated that all the necessary elements came together Saturday afternoon and evening to spawn the tornados, which are much more common in the Midwest.
Proch said a cold front was approaching the area Saturday. Preceding the front was moist air pushing up from the south. "That was fuel for the fire," he added. There were also strong winds at the surface and strong winds aloft. "With that combination, it was a good recipe for strong thunderstorms to develop," Proch said.
Saturday’s tornado that caused tremendous damage the Coke and Ware Neck areas of Gloucester and Page Middle School was originally estimated to be an EF-2 tornado, with wind speeds ranging from 111-135 miles per hour. However, Proch said later analysis, which is still pending, has the tornado that hit Gloucester at an F3, with wind speeds ranging from 136-165 miles per hour.