Weather Service reports deadly tornado in Sussex packed 140 m.p.h winds


The April 1 tornado that tore through an area of western Sussex County has been listed as an F3 by the National Weather Service.

The tornado came out of severe storms that swept through the state and carried speeds of up to 140 miles an hour, enough to cause widespread destruction and an area that ran from Bridgeville to Ellendale and Greenwood. No other serious injuries were reported.

More than 60 structures were affected, with some destroyed. Receiving heavy damage was a Delaware Department of Transportation yard. Tornadoes in Delaware typically do not have enough velocity to take down buildings.

The weather office went back into its records and offered a summary of tornado activity in Delaware.

The Weather Service noted that the only other tornado fatality in Delaware in recent times came in 1983 during an F2 tornado near Hartley in Kent County.

At leat until now, the most powerful torando was an F3 struck in New Castle and caused damage to a waerhouse and roofs.

The state is known to go long periods without a tornado only to see multiple twisters over a short period, the Weather Service noted. There has been speculation that global warming is causing more severe weather events.

The storms that struck Delaware were part of a system that spawned tornadoes that caused 32 deaths in the Mid-Atlantic, South and Midwet. The Weather Service listed six tornadoes in the region from the April 1 storm.

Click here for a full summary that tracked the path of the tornado and the damage it caused. Click here for a listing of tornadoes in Delaware from the 1950s through 2021.