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Atmospheric conditions were right for last year’s tornado, speaker says

Weather conditions on April 16, 2011 in Southeastern Virginia provided "a nice setup" for tornadoes to occur, a National Weather Service official said.

During an After Hours Lecture Thursday night in Watermen’s Hall on the Virginia Institute of Marine Science campus, Gloucester Point, John Billet said that because of enhanced radar and other technological advances, weather observers were able to stay atop the storm more closely and to issue tornado warnings throughout the region that day.

Billet is Science Operations Officer for the NWS office at Wakefield in Surry County, one of three regional offices NWS operates in the state.

Despite the warnings, he said the series of tornadoes that blasted portions of North Carolina before heading into Virginia—and eventually striking portions of Gloucester, Mathews and Middlesex counties—still claimed lives and caused extensive property damage.

The weather pattern included a strong low pressure system in the ...

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