Severe Weather of October 8, 2008

A potent upper level low pressure system moved slowly east across the Deep South on Wednesday, October 8. A surface low was centered over central Alabama, with a warm front extending across southeast Alabama into the Florida Big Bend, and a trailing cold front across southwest Alabama and the western Florida Panhandle. Several lines of strong to severe thunderstorms formed ahead of the cold front over southern Alabama and the Florida Panhandle during the morning, then moved into portions of southeast Alabama, southwest Georgia, and the Florida Big Bend in the afternoon. There were eight confirmed tornadoes, six EF0 and two EF1, as well as a few reports of straight line wind damage. A local storm report summarizes damage that occurred across the region.

A tornadic waterspout (Figure 1) moved ashore into Panama City at 8:23 AM CDT. The EF0 tornado produced damage in the Baypoint subdivision near Saint Andrew State Park. Windows were blown out of a few homes. A business building suffered roof damage. Several trees and power lines were blown down.

Photo of waterspout over Saint Andrew Bay
Figure 1. Waterspout over Saint Andrew Bay moving toward Panama City. Click on the image for a larger view.

A supercell thunderstorm spawned the next tornado, which touched down near the civic center in Enterprise, AL at 11:54 AM CDT. The EF1 tornado severely damaged the center's roof and blew out several windows. Flying debris damaged many vehicles parked outside the center. The tornado moved northeast for another 1.5 miles before it lifted where U.S. Highway 84 intersects the railroad downtown. Sporadic damage was reported further east of Boll Weevil Circle near the Walmart. Maximum winds of 100 to 105 mph were assessed at the civic center. Figure 2 shows the reflectivity and storm-reletive velocity image from the Eglin AFB FL (KEVX) WSR-88D of the tornado just before it lifted.

Image of
tornadic supercell northeast of Enterprise, AL from the KEVX WSR-88D.
Figure 2. KEVX WSR-88D reflectivity/storm-relative velocity image at 12:10 PM CDT. Click on the image for a larger view.

The parent supercell storm that produced the Enterprise tornado crossed into Dale County, AL, with another tornado touchdown at Fort Rucker at 12:15 PM CDT. Damage from the EF0 tornado (maximum winds of 80 mph) occurred at Andrews Avenue and Airport Road where several vehicles were damaged. Numerous trees were uprooted. The tornado continued to a point about five miles south of Ozark, AL, toward State Route 123 where a roof was partially removed from a residence near Logan Road. The tornado lifted at 12:33 PM CDT.

A northward moving supercell storm entered the western panhandle of Houston County, AL, and produced a EF0 tornado near the community of Wicksburg, just north of U.S. Highway 84 and State Route 123 at 1:05 PM CDT. It destroyed a barn, damaged a few vehicles at an auto dealership, and uprooted a few trees near the Dale/Houston County line before it lifted about five minutes later. This same storm spawned a brief EF0 tornado about a mile east of Pinckard in Dale County, AL at 1:14 PM CDT. No damage was reported.

The supercell storm that produced the Enterprise and Fort Rucker, AL tornadoes, tracked east and spawned a tornado near the Dale/Henry County line around 1:28 PM CDT. The tornado crossed into Henry County and damaged a home north of State Route 27 at 1:33 PM CDT, about six miles northwest of Capps, AL. The home suffered roof damage, and the attached carport (Figure 3) was destroyed, with debris scattered over several acres. Winds were estimated at 85 mph, which classified it as an EF0 tornado.

Tornado damaged a home and carport in Henry County, AL.
Figure 3. A carport attached to a home in Henry County, Alabama was destroyed by a tornado. Click on the image for a larger view.

A strong mesocyclone over eastern Jackson County, FL moved northeast into Seminole County, GA just after 4 PM EDT. Damage was confined around Lake Seminole near the intersection of State Routes 253 and 39 around 4:15 PM EDT (Figure 4). Two vacant homes were damaged near Seminole State Park. Several trees were uprooted. The damage was consistent with straight line winds, which were estimated between 60 and 70 mph. The storm then moved into Decatur County, GA where it blew down road signs and damaged a commercial building on Highway 262 near Climax.

Reflectivity and storm-relative velocity images from the Tallahassee WSR-88D (KTLH) at 2016 UTC (4:16 PM EDT) October 8, 2008.
Figure 4. Reflectivity and storm-relative velocity images from the Tallahassee WSR-88D (KTLH) at 2016 UTC (4:16 PM EDT) October 8, 2008. Tornado warning polygon is overlaid in magenta. Click on the image for a larger view.

The last tornado of the day touched down about 3 miles south-southwest of Lloyd in Jefferson County, FL, at 5:24 pm EDT (Figure 5). The damage occurred about 0.2 miles south of Whitehouse Road along Paul Thompson Road. In this area, several large pine trees were snapped, with a few uprooted (Figure 6). A 144 square foot gazebo was destroyed. The damage width was estimated to be 50 to 75 yards, and winds of 90 mph classified it as an EF1 tornado. The tornado uprooted several trees a few miles to the north-northeast before it lifted at 5:29 PM EDT.

Storm-relative velocity image from the Tallahassee WSR-88D (KTLH) at 2124 UTC (5:24 PM EDT) October 8, 2008.
Figure 5. Storm-relative velocity image from the Tallahassee WSR-88D (KTLH) at 2124 UTC (5:24 PM EDT) October 8, 2008. Click on the image for a larger view.

Pine trees snapped by a tornado near Lloyd, FL.
Figure 6. Pine trees snapped by a tornado in Jefferson County, Florida. A nearby gazebo was thrown into this grove of trees. Click on the image for a larger view.


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