Violent storm, strong winds roar through region

6:35 p.m.

According to Tammy Hawley, a spokeswoman for Mayor Dwight C. Jones, 30,000 homes in the city were without power and there were between 75 and 100 reports of downed trees. No fatalities or fires have been reported.

Jones will survey the damage Tuesday, Hawley said. Hawley said the mayor was looking at reports this evening that focused on North Side and Church Hill, though there were no indications that damage was most heavily concentrated in any one area.

West of the city, Goochland County Deputy Fire and Rescue Chief D. Edward Ferguson said his department responded to more than three dozen calls as of 6 p.m.

Across the region, meantime, residents were inspecting damage and sharing stories of where they were when the storm struck.

Carpenter Richard Head, 27, said he was building a deck as dime-sized hail fell in the area of Nuckols and Cox roads.

“It was actually kind of frightening to be in it,” said Head.

(This has been a breaking news update. Check back for more details as they become available. Earlier updates are posted below.)

6:25 p.m.

A massive willow oak some four feet in diameter crashed through the brand-new addition of Carl Archacki’s home in the 4600 block of Momnument Avenue. The home had just been refurbished after a November 2010 fire severely damaged much of the interior.

Archacki, a television advertising account executive, said he’d poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into the home, now all lost, but he was most angry Monday because he’d been begging city officials to remove the tree for months.

“It was leaning toward my house. I even said I would pay for the removal even though the tree is on city property and pay to plant new trees all the way to the corner.”
 
The damage and the massive downed tree drew dozens of onlookers who have been sympathetic to Archacki’s fight and earlier losses.

(This has been a breaking news update. Check back for more details as they become available. Earlier updates are posted below.)

6:15 p.m.

Officials, homeowners and business people will be out late inspecting damage this evening from the violent storms that started west of Richmond and moved southeast through the city.

The storms tore through central Virginia roughly between 2:30 p.m., when one hit the Gum Spring area of Goochland County, to about 3:30 p.m., when they moved into eastern Henrico and Hanover counties.

The storm system moved southeast at about 25 to 35 mph, whipping up winds officially measured at 53 mph in Richmond but reported unofficially as high as 70 mph.

The storms eventually made their way to the Williamsburg area and on to southeastern Virginia.

No fatalities were reported; at least six people were reported injured in hard-hit Henrico County.

(This has been a breaking news update. Check back for more details as they become available. Earlier updates are posted below.)

5:55 p.m.

All lanes are closed on eastbound Patterson Avenue (state Route 6) between Beverly Drive and Forest Avenue because of a downed tree, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation.

VDOT says although the cleanup is under way, motorists should expect delays.

(This has been a breaking news update. Check back for more details as they become available. Earlier updates are posted below.)

5:30 p.m.

High winds tore away a section of the metal roof of the state tax department’s operations center, housed in a warehouse off Westmoreland Street, just north of West Broad Street.
 
The damaged portion of the roof ripped on the old Price Club building was estimated to measure 150 feet by 200 feet, making up about 15 percent to 20 percent of the entire roof. Water damage was reported to some offices and, possibly, computer equipment.
 
About 300 people work in the building. Disaster crews were cleaning up damage and sealing off the hole in the roof with plastic.

(This has been a breaking news update. Check back for more details as they become available. Earlier updates are posted below.)

5:20 p.m.

At least six people were reported injured but no one killed as the storm passed through western Henrico County, the fire department said. No injuries were reported in Richmond, Hanover County or Chesterfield County.

Three people suffered serious but non-critical injuries in a three-vehicle wreck shortly before 4 p.m. at Patterson Avenue and Maybeury Drive, said Henrico Fire Capt. James Mellon. Two of the injured were taken to VCU Medical Center and one to St. Mary’s Hospital.

A pedestrian sustained serious but not life-threatening injuries when struck by a vehicle in the area of Laconia Drive and Colwyck Drive east of Laburnum Avenue, Mellon said.

Two people were injured in separate incidents in which a tree came through a home, Mellon said. One was treated at the scene and the other was taken to a hospital for non-life-threatening injuries. The addresses of the homes were not immediately available.

Henrico received more than 150 calls for service over a roughly 90-minute period from 2:40 p.m. through shortly after 5 p.m., Mellon said.

Tammy Hawley, a spokeswoman for Mayor Dwight C. Jones, said damage reports in the city were not yet available.

“The assessment of the situation is still very fluid,” Hawley said.

(This has been a breaking news update. Check back for more details as they become available. Earlier updates are posted below.)

4:37 p.m.

State government workers in the General Assembly Building and Patrick Henry Building, which houses the governor’s office, were ordered to the basement and interior stairwells when the storm struck this afternoon.
 
J. Tucker Martin, spokesman for Gov. Bob McDonnell, said employees in the six-story Patrick Henry Building were away from their desks for about 20 minutes.
 
Workers were alerted to the evacuation by an alarm sounded and announcement over the building’s intercom.
 
At the time, McDonnell was not in Richmond but landing in Northern Virginia for appointments in the Washington area, said Martin.

(This has been a breaking news update. Check back for more details as they become available. Earlier updates are posted below.)

4:35 p.m

In addition to portions of the outfield wall being wrecked at The Diamond during today’s Flying Squirrels game that was halted by the storm, at least three skyboxes were damaged.

The game was called in 8th inning with the New Britain Rock Cats up 6-2. Flying Squirrels executive Todd Parnell was just quoted on WRIC 8 as saying he was still trying to assess the damage about an hour and a half after the storm blew through. No injuries were reported.

(This has been a breaking news update. Check back for more details as they become available. Earlier updates are posted below.)

4:30 p.m.

Here’s the latest on traffic on the interstates in the Richmond area:

VDOT spokeswoman Dawn Eischen said downed trees slowed eastbound traffic on Interstate 64 through the region. Trees fell onto the interstate in the eastbound lanes around mile marker 171 in Goochland County and mile marker 177 in the Short Pump area, Eischen said.
 
She had no reports of major problems on Interstate 95 or other highways.

(This has been a breaking news update. Check back for more details as they become available. Earlier updates are posted below.)

4:05 p.m.

The National Weather Service has lifted the severe-thunderstorm warning for the Richmond metro area, replacing it with a less-serious severe-thunderstorm watch.

A warning is in effect for localities to the east and southeast, including parts of Charles City, Prince George, Surry, James City and Gloucester counties.

(This has been a breaking news update. Check back for more details as they become available. Earlier updates are posted below.)

4 p.m.

In Richmond, authorities were responding to numerous calls of downed wires and trees, including one that struck a building and vehicles in the area of Harrison and West Main streets, said Fire Lt. Robbie Hagaman.
 
Hagaman said there also was a report that the front side of a building had collapsed in the area of East Franklin Street and 21st and 22nd streets, but that report was unconfirmed.

In Henrico County, street lights and traffic signals are out along Horsepen Road, Three Chopt Road, and Patterson Avenue. Motorists are inching along and taking turns passing through intersections. Small limbs and branches are down on each roadway.

At Snagajob, which sent its employees home after the power outage and storm damage, no injuries were reported, a spokeswoman said. Company personnel were attempting to assess damage.

In New Kent County, the sheriff’s department is responding to “multiple reports of high winds and trees down,” Chief  Deputy Joe McLaughlin said at 3:45 p.m. There have been no reports of structural damage, he said.
 
The department also was responding to motor vehicle accidents on Interstate 64, he said.

(This has been a breaking news update. Check back for more details as they become available. Earlier updates are posted below.)

3:48 p.m.

In the Broad Meadows subdivision of Henrico County, large trees are down, trapping people in their homes, according to the National Weather Service.

The area is off Hungary Road north of Broad Street in western Henrico.

(This has been a breaking news update. Check back for more details as they become available. Earlier updates are posted below.)

3:45 p.m

All lanes are closed on I-64 east in Goochland at mile marker 172, and at Short Pump, mile marker 177, because of downed trees, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation. Motorists are being advised to use U.S. 250 (Broad Street).

(This has been a breaking news update. Check back for more details as they become available. An earlier update is posted below.)

3:40 p.m.

Henrico Fire Capt. James Mellon said officials have received at least 10 or 12 reports of trees into houses west of Laburnum Avenue, and he said a pedestrian was struck by a vehicle east of Laburnum in the area of Laconia Drive and Colwyck Drive. He did not immediately have additional information on the person struck.
 
“We have multiple trees down, trees into houses,” Mellon said. “We’re sitting on almost 70 pending calls with another 25 to 30 already dispatched and cleared.”

(This has been a breaking news update. Check back for more details as they become available. Earlier updates are posted below.)

3:37 p.m.

Damage reports are streaming in across the region, ranging from the roof coming off an office building in western Henrico to numerous reports of downed trees and flying debris.

Fallen trees were blocking traffic on numerous roads including Interstate 64.

The National Weather Service has shifted the tornado warning for the area to a severe thunderstorm warning. Areas covered by the warning include parts of Charles City, Hanover, Henrico, James City and New Kent counties.

A severe thunderstorm capable of producing ping-pong-ball-size hail was reported near Highland Springs about 3:10 and moving southeast at 60 mph. Larger hail was reported west of the metro area in Fluvanna County to Henrico’s Lakeside suburb of Richmond.

In the western Henrico office community of Innsbrook, the roof was torn off a building, the National Weather Service. Elsehwere in that area, Snagajob reported damage to its building but said its employees were safe.

More than 136,000 people were without power, according to Dominion Virginia Power.

(This has been a breaking news update. Check back for more details as they become available. An earlier update is posted below.)

A powerful storm that spawned what was initially feared to be a tornado knocked down trees and caused what appeared to be major wind damage across the region this afternoon. At least 85,000 people were without power as the storm roared through.

The National Weather Service said the storm appeared not to be a torando but “massive wind event.”

Radar indicated the possible tornado near Gum Spring about 2:25 p.m.

Portions of the outfield wall were blown down at The Diamond, employees at CarMax in eastern Goochland County were told to take shelter and patrons at the Virginia Museum were ordered into the basement.

Violent storm conditions were reported on Interstate 64 just west of Short Pump, with heavy hail, lightning and strong winds carrying leaves and branches.No injuries were immediately reported.

(This has been a breaking news update.)

(Times-Dispatch staff writers Bill McKelway, Wesley P. Hester, Jeff E. Schapiro, Jim Nolan, Randy Hallman, Rex Springtson, Reed Williams, Michael Martz, Eric Kolenich, Tom Kapsidelis and Jacob Geiger contributed to this report.)

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