Boy Scouts escape tornado while camping

By Nicole Johnson  bio | email | Twitter

LADSON, SC (WCSC) – It was a close call for a Boy Scout troop from Ladson when a tornado ripped right through their campsite.

Eight scouts and four leaders from Troop 752 were on a camping trip at the Raven Knob Boy Scout camp in Surry County, NC when the storm struck.

Watching the evening storm from the mountaintop campsite wasn't so bad, but then scout leader Robin Pittman said it started heading their way.

"The rain started. It came in hard and fast," Pittman said. "There was not a lot of time to do anything."

As she helped gather the boys out of their tents to a safer spot, they noticed two of the scouts were missing from their tent.

"We're very lucky because the two boys that were not where we thought they were, a tree came into the back of their tent, soaking all of their bedding," Pittman explained.

The National Weather Service of Blacksburg, VA surveyed the damage and released pictures of the damage. Officials say the tornado touched down at about 9:38 p.m. Monday, and it lasted just five minutes. It tore a path 1.5 miles long, 100 yards wide, and rated an EF0 on the scale used to measure tornados.

"An EF0 tornado really is a weak tornado. Winds usually range from about 60 to 85 miles per hour, which is very typical of what you'd see with a typical thunder storm around here," Live 5 meteorologist Chad Watson said. "Just because the wind speeds are low they can still take down small trees, rip branches off."

Pittman said when the boy scouts found out about the emergency situation their preparedness training kicked in and everyone got to safety within minutes.

"It makes you extremely proud of young boys and men, who don't panic, freak out," Pittman said. "When you ask them to do something they recognize it's an emergency situation. They don't play around. They do what needs to be done."

The boy scouts gathered beneath a white canopy tent during the storm, and then Raven Knob camp officials took the group to a shelter for the night.

The National Weather Service said the tornado touched down near Low Gap, NC and lifted just north of the Raven Knob Boy Scout camp.

No one at the camp was injured.

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