The Code Red Warning came at 2:55 pm on Wednesday, July 17: “severe thunderstorm warning issued for your area—take cover immediately.” They weren’t kidding. Not many minutes later, a fierce wind and blinding rain inundated Crozet. Trees were whipped, bent, and shaken by the high winds. Many limbs and whole trees were knocked down, roofs were blown off, and windows were broken. Fortunately, the intense storm did not last long—maybe 20 to 30 minutes. But the damage was done.
A gigantic tree in front of the Cale house, in the 500 block of St. George Ave., toppled across the street, only held up by two power lines. The road was closed the rest of that day and most of the night. A crew from Dominion Energy worked all afternoon and night in a bucket truck, as well as on the ground, to carefully slice the tree into chunks without cutting the power lines. The tree’s roots completely buckled the sidewalk on the south side of the street.
The wind was so violent it entirely blew out two panes of the large window on the front of the Mudhouse. “The air pressure sucked the window outward,” explained Clare Reines, Mudhouse barista and shift manager. “First it cracked, and then it shattered. An elderly couple was sitting next to the window, but fortunately they weren’t hurt. We immediately moved everyone to the back. The rain was horizontal.” The wind also blew a tree down onto Bob and Sharon Helt’s house, blew down the canopy at the Rooftop Restaurant in Piedmont Place, and even blew the roofs off of some houses under construction in Old Trail.
According to NBC 29, 3,000 people lost power, including all of downtown Crozet and many homes in Old Trail and elsewhere. All the stores in the Square closed early. Some got power back that evening, but for many it was out for 12 hours or more, from 3:10 p.m. on Wednesday to 5 a.m. or later Thursday morning. A few days later, on Sunday, July 21, a storm just to the west and south of us again knocked out power to many residents of Old Trail, Orchard Acres, and the Mint Springs area for several hours.