Georgia saw its first severe weather of 2009 on Wednesday evening, with reports of tornadoes and severe thunderstorms causing one death and multiple injuries. It appears that most of the damage was recorded south of Atlanta, and along the Georgia-Florida border.
Preliminary storm reports showed an EF0 tornado in Warner Robins, an EF4 tornado in Washington, in Wilkes county, which traveled 16 miles and moved a two ton truck 60 feet, an EF1 tornado in Eatonton causing one injury, additional reports of EF1 tornadoes in Jasper and Newton counties, an EF2 tornado near Moreland in Coweta County, and an EF3 tornado near Sparta in Hancock County, which caused the fatality as its 140 MPH winds traveled an eight mile path.
Here is the preliminary report from the Weather Service as of late this afternoon:
TAYLOR COUNTY…THE TORNADO BEGAN NEAR TOMMY PRUVIS ROAD AND SB EUBANKS DRIVE AT 545 PM. THE INTERMITTENT TOUCHDOWNS WAS 3 TO 4 MILES LONG AND 50 TO 100 FEET WIDE. SEVERAL TREES BLOWN DOWN…A MOBILE HOME DAMAGED AND ONE BLOWN OFF ITS FOUNDATION. IT WAS RATED AS AN EF0 WITH WIND AROUND 70 MPH.
JASPER COUNTY…THE TORNADO TOUCHDOWN WAS AT 800 PM… APPROXIMATELY 7 MILES IN LENGTH…STARTING 9 MILES WNW OF SHADY DALE TO 2 WNW OF SHADY DALE…LIFTING ABOUT 810 PM. IT WAS RATED A WEAK EF1 WITH WIND ESTIMATED AT 100MPH. MINOR DAMAGE WAS REPORTED TO FIVE HOMES AND MAJOR DAMAGE TO A SMALL COTTAGE.
COWETA COUNTY…THE TORNADO TOUCHDOWN AT 923 BRADBERRY ROAD…APPROXIMATELY THREE MILES WEST OF HIGHWAY 27. THE STORM CONTINUED TO THE EAST-NORTHEAST ABOUT SEVEN MILES ACROSS SOUTHERN COWETA COUNTY…AND 1 MILE WIDE AT THE WIDEST POINT. THE TIME OF THE TOUCHDOWN WAS 830 PM… AND RATED AS AN EF2. AT LEAST A DOZEN HOMES DAMAGED ..SOME SUBSTANTIAL.
PUTNAM COUNTY…THE STARTING POINT WAS 7 WSW OF EATONTON AROUND 715 PM AND EXTENDED ABOUT 7 MILES IN LENGTH AND ONE QUARTER MILE WIDE. THE EF2 TORNADO UPROOTED NUMEROUS TREES…DOWNED POWER LINES CLOSED U.S. HIGHWAY 129…AND AT LEAST ONE PERSON INJURED FROM DEBRIS AS THE STORM WENT FROM WILLARD TO EASTONTON AND BRIEFLY TRAPPING OTHERS IN THE HOME OR CAR. A RESTAURANT COMPLETELY DESTROYED…AND SEVERAL HOMES SUSTAINED MODERATE TO MAJOR DAMAGE.
WILKES COUNTY…THE STORM REACHED THE WESTERN PART OF THE COMMUNITY OF TYRONE…NEAR HIGHWAY 44 AT 710 PM AND EXTENDED FOR 16 MILES IN LENGTH AND ONE HALF MILE WIDE. THE STORM WAS RATED AN EF4 WITH DEBRIS FROM THE DEMOLISHED HOME BEING CARRIED AT LEAST ONE HALF MILE. THERE WERE FIVE OTHER BUILDINGS RECEIVING MINOR TO MODERATE DAMAGE…AND A CHICKEN HOUSE WAS DESTROYED AS WELL.
There were also numerous hail reports, with golf ball size hail reported in Walton County, and 1.75 inch hail in Henry, Coweta and Clayton Counties.
For the next few days, it’s going to be colder than normal, with highs only around 50 degrees and lows below freezing at least until Wednesday. This is likely to balance out an already warmer than normal February. As of yesterday, Hartsfield airport’s mean temperature was 2.7 degree above normal. At this time of year, our normal high should be 58 degrees, with lows around 38. However after this cold spell passes, the outlook is for warmer than usual temperatures through the first week in March.
Long range, the outlook for March issued today by the Weather Service says we should see equal chances of above or below normal temperatures and below normal rainfall, and for March through May the trend of variable temperatures and drier weather holds as well.