- Last Updated on 08:01 AM 03/22/10
- BY Doug Ford
More than one million persons across Virginia took part in the state’s annual Tornado Preparedness Day on Tuesday, but the Comets varsity and jayvee softball teams were not prepared to face what Coach Melanie Saunders described as “a funnel cloud” that interrupted the teams’ games at Albemarle Middle School on Saturday. The funnel cloud came from nowhere during a calm and sunny day and made its way from behind home plate through the infield and beyond, said Saunders, adding the Comets were batting in the fifth inning of the first game when it struck.
“I was in the third base coaches’ box and at first felt a small breeze,” she recalled.
About 30 seconds later, the cloud, described by Saunders as twice as high as the backstop, appeared behind the concession stand and made its way onto the field, tossing aside everything in its path, and sending players, coaches and fans scurrying for cover.
The funnel cloud also sent both jayvee softball teams, playing on an adjacent field, running for shelter.
“The funnel cloud was on the infield with us,” recalled Saunders.
“Tables, chairs, tents and porta-johns were lifted into the air,” added Saunders, who estimated one porta-john was lifted about 30 feet over the concession stand.
“Players were holding onto fences, trees and each other. It was very scary, and we are very blessed and fortunate to be ok,” she continued.
Aside from a few scrapes, bumps and bruises, the teams, coaches and fans escaped injury, added Saunders, who pointed out it was a wonder no one was hurt.
“I’ve never experienced anything like this, and it was a sight I hope we never see or experience again.”