CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Heavy winds hit a Chesterfield IHOP leaving damage to the property. This happened not too long after a deadly storm hit a neighboring area.

August marks the third month of Hurricane Season; a season that lasts from June 1 until November 30. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, this season could be an above-normal one for the Atlantic.

Hurricane Season can bring severe thunderstorms to Central Virginia leaving many with damage, flooding, and power outages.

 “We get a lot of hot and humid days. We get thunderstorms that come through strong fronts, whether it’s, you know, heavy rains and flooding or strong winds that create ‘gustnados’ or even just down burst winds knocking down trees and power lines,” said Matt DiNardo, 8News meteorologist.  

Last night, employees at the IHOP located off of Route 288 and Hull Street Road were shocked to see the heavy winds from outside their restaurant cause damage to their building.

“In this case, the actual thunderstorm was back in western Chesterfield County about three to five miles away,” DiNardo said. “But the gust front ahead had winds that went in kind of opposite directions [and] created a spin.”

In 2018, a deadly tornado ripped through an area located about a mile and a half away from the restaurant. This storm caused damage to The Old Dominion Floor Company on Speeks Drive and Hull Street Road and killed one person.

“That one was a true tornado [that] dropped down out of the sky and unfortunately hit the roof of the building, exploded the building, and a person died in that unfortunate incident,” DiNardo said.

Difference between a ‘Gustnado’, Dust Devil, and Tornado

‘Gustnado’

According to DiNardo, a “gustnado” or “gust front tornado” is when there are gusty winds or a gust front ahead of a storm. In the case of the IHOP storm damage that we saw last night, the actual thunderstorm was back in western Chesterfield County about three to five miles away from where the ‘gustnado’ occurred. The gust ahead of the storm had winds that went in opposite directions and created a spin with winds of about 50 mph.

‘Dust Devil’

DiNardo says a “dust devil” will often occur on a sunny/hot day. The differences in heating will create a whirlwind in the sky. This can be composed of leaves, dust, or hay with 35 mph winds.

Tornado

According to the National Weather Service, a tornado is composed of violently rotating air columns extending from the base of a thunderstorm down to the ground.

All of these storms are capable of causing damage. The Virginia Department of Emergency Management recommends that residents make a plan for themselves and their loved ones. This includes locating your nearest evacuation zone and building an emergency kit with things like food, safety tools and any medications.