Delaware's third tornado of the year hits Dagsboro Monday, causes minor damage

John Mitchell struggled to hold onto his front door as he looked out into the driving rain Monday afternoon on Adams Road in Dagsboro.

At the same time, a tornado was passing through his backyard.The EF0 tornado touched down for three minutes in the Piney Neck area of the southern Sussex County town Monday, according to the National Weather Service.

No injuries were reported.

It began along Adams Road, where Mitchell lives, at 2:55 p.m., the weather service said in a statement, and likely ended a short distance east three minutes later, near Piney Neck Road and Wild Goose Way. The tornado traveled about 0.7 miles and garnered a maximum width of 370 yards, the statement said.

Sally Bradshaw's shed was ripped apart in a tornado in Dagsboro on Monday, Sept. 11, 2023.
Sally Bradshaw's shed was ripped apart in a tornado in Dagsboro on Monday, Sept. 11, 2023.

The estimated peak wind speed was about 85 miles per hour.

Mitchell and his neighbor, Sally Bradshaw, have sheds next to each other in their backyards, against a wood line. Both had partial roof and wall collapses. Mitchell's shed's door blew off and slid off its foundation, as well. A trailer blew up and against another shed in his backyard.

Mitchell had some windows blown out of his home, while Bradshaw had some shingles and a gutter blown away. Many trees on Adams Road were damaged and several were uprooted.

"We had two big trees in the backyard that were dead," Mitchell said. "They disappeared."

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The only damage on Piney Neck Road was a tree uprooted in the yard of a home near Wild Goose Way, according to the National Weather Service.

The Dagsboro tornado marks the third known tornado in Delaware this year. An EF1 tornado occurred north of Middletown, in the area of Bullen Drive, July 9, and an EF3 tornado blew through 14 miles in northern Sussex County April 1, killing one man and destroying or damaging over 60 homes.

How tornadoes are measured

The Enhanced Fujita Scale classifies tornadoes as follows:

  • EF0: Weak, 65 to 85 mph winds.

  • EF1: Weak, 86 to 110 mph winds.

  • EF2: Strong, 111 to 135 mph winds.

  • EF3: Strong, 136 to 165 mph winds.

  • EF4: Violent, 166 to 200 mph winds.

  • EF5: Violent, over 200 mph winds.

Tornado frequency in Delaware

The National Weather Service Mt. Holly's Dean Iovino told Delaware Online/The News Journal in July that Delaware "generally sees a weak tornado or two" every year, and more violent tornadoes do sometimes occur.

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Though it may seem as though Delaware is experiencing more frequent tornadoes, that's not necessarily true, according to Iovino. Better technology and increased development have led to more tornadoes being reported, he said.

None of the tornadoes in Delaware this year were accompanied by warnings from the Emergency Alert System. The lack of a warning in Sussex County was due to a technical glitch that prevented wireless emergency alerts from being broadcast to cellphones in the area. However, when speaking about the Middletown tornado, Iovino said tornadoes often form with little or no warning, making alerts impossible.

"If you have a severe thunderstorm warning, there's a possibility of a tornado," he said.

Shannon Marvel McNaught reports on Sussex County and beyond. Reach her at or on Twitter @MarvelMcNaught.

This article originally appeared on Delaware News Journal: Minor tornado in Dagsboro was Delaware's third this year