Torando and Damaging Wind Strike Morgan County, Georgia
July 1, 2003
by Jeff Dobur
A storm damage survey was conducted on July 14th, 2003 across the southern portion of Morgan County, Georgia in cooperation with Morgan County Emergency Management and county officials. The survey was to examine damage from a July 1st, 2003 storm which occurred around 6 PM EDT.
Remnants of Tropical Storm Bill were moving across Georgia. Several embedded thunderstorm cells within Tropical Storm Bill’s rain bands were evident. This atmospheric environment can foster isolated wind damage and, on rare occasions, weak tornadoes induced by latent vorticity from the tropical system. These tornadoes are generally weak (F-0 or F-1) and short-lived.
After review of damage and meteorological information from that day, the National Weather Service concluded the damage was produced by both straight line winds in addition to a weak F-1 Tornado. This conclusion was based on damage assessment, talking with local residents, and review of NWS WSR-88D radar data.
The damage comprised of 30 or more isolated trees downed by straight line winds on Monticello road, Clack road, and Spears road. More extensive damage was on Hillsman Farm on Hillsman road. This area showed characteristics of tornadic damage in both visible convergence pattern within a highly forested area and narrow aspect ratio of damage relative to surrounding area. Hundreds of trees within this heavily forested area were toppled or sheared off. Also apparent were several debarked trees (type unknown) on the leading edge of the forested area.
MAP VIEW (See map below) SITE A – Hillsman Farm
Damage associated with Tornado winds. Welded metal door blown off horse trailer over 400 yards into forested area. Horse trailer rolled and lifted off ground over John Deere tractor. Substantial damage to hay barn was also observed. Small barn blown over and other minor structural damage were observed. SITE B – Several trees down on Clack Road were observed. SITE C – Narrow Aspect Ratio (path evident) tree damage across Interstate 20. Southbound lane of Interstate 20 was closed for cleanup from debris reported by county officials. Purple Shaded Area – Probable Tornado Path Aspect Ratio of Damage – Narrow (50 to 100 yards), Length (3 miles; sporadic) Trajectories – Convergence (sporadic, most identified at SITE A) Appearance of Damage–Damage was largely cleaned up, material characteristics (chopped up or laid out debris) unknown Visual sighting – At least 3 residents reported seeing tornado. “Rotating clouds” were seen in sighting. F-Scale - F-1: 70 to 100 MPH winds best estimate based on wind infliction on structures, vehicles (horse trailer). Injuries: 0 Fatalities: 0
Examples of Damage in Morgan County, Georgia ( click images to enlarge )