Suwannee County Tornado September 30, 1998

 

SUMMARY:

On September 30, 1998, during the early morning hours at around 12:30 AM a tornado touched down seven miles west of Live Oak, Florida. The tornado cut a swath in some areas nearly 500 feet wide and around 2 miles long (Figure 1, Path of Tornado). The tornado demolished seven homes and damaged at least 5 others. Two residents received serious injuries.

The tornado dropped from a spiral rain band associated with the remnants of Hurricane Georges. Spirals rain bands are very favorable areas for tornadoes to spin-up rapidly.

Spiral rain bands radiate outward from the center of the storm. One can see the banded cloud structure on the satellite picture (0331Z, Figure 2) and radar image (0510Z Radar, Figure 3 ). Also note how the winds shifts from Southeast to West and increase with height on the Jacksonville weather balloon sounding launched at 700 PM on September 29, 1998 (JAX Skew-T, Figure 4) .

There are sometimes gaps in between spiral rain bands where no rain or wind is found. In fact, if one were to travel between the outer edge of a hurricane to its center, one would normally progress from light rain and wind, to dry and weak breeze, then back to increasingly heavier rainfall and stronger wind, over and over again with each period of rainfall and wind being more intense and lasting longer.

Heavy rainfall continued across Suwannee County during the morning hours, with some locations picking-up more than 7 inches in 24 hours. This caused ponding of water on roadways and flooding of low lying areas (Flooding, Figures 5 and 6) .

TOTAL PATH LENGTH: APPROXIMATELY 2 MILES.
FUJITA DAMAGE SCALE ESTIMATE: MOSTLY F0 WITH ISOLATED AREAS OF F1-F2.
MAXIMUM WIND SPEED ESTIMATE: NEAR 150 MPH.

Survey Images travelling from South to North.

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

Prepared by Pablo Santos and Fred Johnson from the National Weather Service in Jacksonville.

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