Columbia County EF1 Tornado
May 15, 2014


EF1 Tornado: Maximum winds near 95 mph
Injuries/Fatalities: 0/0
Touchdown: ~ 9:15 am (on ground for less than 2 min)
Storm Motion: to the NE around 30 mph

Path width: 50 yards
Tornado Path Length: 0.40 mi


A prefrontal squall line combined with a unseasonably strong upper level trough phased across the northern Florida peninsula on Thursday, May 15. A mesolow, or localized area of low pressure, formed along the squall line as it tracked across Suwanee County then northeast across Columbia county. The mesolow circulation was evident on radar imagery, which showed some rotation in the velocity product, although it was generally broad and weak (radar image 1 below). 

Radar Image 1 (above)

Storm Evolution & Impacts

At this time, an NWS Storm Survey confirmed a brief EF1 tornado touchdown which impacted a rural area southwest of Lake City along Pinemount Road. The event began as a strong downburst wind, then wrapped into a brief EF1 tornado near the intersection of Pinemount Rd and Nugget Way. Widespread significant tree damage occurred near this intersection with many large live oaks damaged, including some with limbs > 10-12 inches torn off.  Many pine trees were either uprooted or broken at the base. Several other smaller oriental trees were uprooted. As the storm moved NE across Pinemount Road, the damage pattern became distinctly tornadic as it raced across the pasture land and caused widespread tree damage and damage to a outbuilding, just ENE of the home in the below satellite image (overview image 2 below).


 Image 2: Overview of Storm Track and Damage

The tornado damage pattern was very distinctive across the east side of the property. An outbuilding with a tin roof had damage including about 5 large pilings on the NE side of the structure lifted 1-1.5 ft out of the ground. These pilings were then blown WSW of the barn due to a NE wind component. Many large pieces of the tin roof, which the pilings supported, were projected 100-200 yards to the W of the outbuilding, as well as 200-300 yards to the NE, which indicated a non-uniform wind pattern. Large oak trees on the north side of the home were uprooted and laid W-E, with additional oaks on the NE side of the barn split and twisted at tree-top level. Also, to the ESE of the outbuilding, large pieces of lumber (about 100 yds from the shed) were impaled 1-2 ft into the pasture. The lumber was impaled in a fashion that indicated a strong SW wind component, likely damage that happened as the vortex moved NE away from the outbuilding and then lofted the lumber with a strong WSW wind component. The total width of the tornado did not exceed 50 yards, with the damage path about 0.40 mile. The wind damage swath was about 0.24 mile. The combined damage spread was around 0.64 mile. Please reference damage pictures in images 3 and 4 below.

Image 3: Damage path with picture overlays.

 Image 4: Roofing material from the outbuilding was spread WNW of the outbuilding site as well as to the ENE.

Thankfully, there were no injuries. The cost of the damage is unknown at this time. Narrow, brief tornadoes, like this one, are very difficult to detect on radar, and thus can occur without warning. Whenever threatening weather approaches, it is always wise to seek safe shelter.

All pictures from NWS Jacksonville Storm Survey
Many thanks to Columbia County Emergency Management and the Colson Family

Angie Enyedi, NWS Jacksonville is the U.S. government's official web portal to all federal, state and local government web resources and services.