Severe Thunderstorms Pound North Georgia Monday

Monday, February 21st, 2005

Just in time for severe weather awareness week, North Georgia received its first major round of thunderstorms for the season on Monday, February 21st.

About noon, a severe thunderstorm warning was sounded for counties in northwest Georgia. By shortly after 1 PM, a severe thunderstorm was spotted in the Lilburn area, and an additional warning was issued shortly after 1:35 for Gwinnett, Walton, and Barrow counties, with storms located in Tucker and Loganville. A large area from Alabama, through 58 counties in north Georgia, and into South Carolina was put under a severe thunderstorm watch until 7PM.

A second wave of thunderstorms crossed North Gwinnett around 6:30, with hail the size of golf balls predicted from north of Duluth east to Buford and Sugar Hill. Shortly before 7PM an additional warning was issued for DeKalb and Gwinnett Counties until 7:45, again with predictions of golf ball size hail through Lilburn and Lawrenceville. As of 7:15, I was observing hail the size of peas outside my house (and hoping the hood of the truck wasn’t going to become damaged). By about 7:30 that phase of the storm had passed through the area. At 7:50, an additional warning was issued for Gwinnett until 8:15.

Due to the continuing presence of the storm, a second watch that included 67 Georgia counties, many further south than the first watch, was put into effect until 2 AM Tuesday. This map shows the size of the second watch, and radar in the area as of about 7:00 PM:

(Courtesy of the National Weather Service.)

Damage reports from the storm include 1 inch hail reported in Snellville and Grayson around 1:30 PM, 2 inch hail in Rome and Canton around 5:30 PM, and 1.75 inch hail around 7:30 PM in Winder. Although some of these reports were from the public, trained spotters reported 1.75 inch hail in Lilburn and Snellville between 7:20 and 7:50 PM.

Rain caused by the storms prompted flood warnings in northwest Georgia, and along the Etowah river near Dawsonville. By 8:45, enough rain had fallen in Gwinnett to issue a generalized flood warning for the county. Both the Big Creek in Alpharetta and the Chattahoochee near Vinings were close to flood stage on Tuesday morning.

Here we measured 1.96 inches of rain on Monday, and a total of 2.41 inches of rain for the storm which began on Sunday. The rain in the last 24 hours measures more than a third of the 6.16 inches so far this year.

This post was originally published at 1:30PM on 2/21/05, and has been updated several times to reflect current conditions.