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First Mercer County tornado since 1965 confirmed

Bluefield Daily Telegraph photo Daniel Radford fills a box with his son’s toys Wednesday morning.
Bluefield Daily Telegraph photo
Daniel Radford fills a box with his son’s toys Wednesday morning.

SPANISHBURG, W.Va. — A woman and her child escaped death Wednesday when their home was hit by Mercer County’s first confirmed tornado in almost 50 years.

Meteorologists with the National Weather Service in Blacksburg,Va. surveyed the damage at Little Rich Creek Road near Spanishburg Wednesday morning to determine whether a home was destroyed by a straight-line windstorm or a tornado. They later determined that Mercer County had experienced its first confirmed tornado since April 1965.

The tornado’s track was 5 and 1/2 miles long, meteorologist Phil Hysell said. Hysell estimated the storm, which had winds of up to 105 mph, qualified as an EF-1 tornado.

The EF (Enhanced Fujita) tornado scale goes from 0 to 5, with 0 being the weakest and 5 being the strongest, he said. Witnesses reported seeing a funnel cloud.

A 4-year-old child, Tyler Radford, was found between a mattress and box springs in the wreckage of his home. His mother, 30-year-old Ashley Radford, was located about 80-feet away. The boy, and his mother, were hospitalized following the storm and later released, her uncle and aunt, Jerry and Sandra Wimmer, said at the scene as they helped haul belongings away.

“God must have been sitting beside them,” Jerry Wimmer said. “He had to have been. I’ve never seen anything like this in West Virginia before.”

Hysell and fellow meteorologist Robert C. Stonefield surveyed the damage for several hours and spoke to witnesses before determining the storm was a tornado. Hysell estimated it had touched down at approximately 11:43 p.m. Tuesday night…

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