Preliminary Notes on the Lanier-Lowndes Tornado of March 3, 2012

A significant severe weather outbreak impacted the WFO Tallahassee forecast area on Saturday, March 3, 2012. A more detailed web page on the entire event is under construction and will be available soon.  This page will focus on the tornado that impacted Lowndes and Lanier Counties in GA and was assessed to be of EF-3 strength at its strongest point.  Figure 1 shows all of the severe weather reports that came into NWS offices across the region. As can be see in the graphic, several reports of tornadoes were received in the WFO Tallahassee warning area.

Storm reports relayed to the NWS  on 3 March 2012 after 7:00 AM EST (1200 UTC).

Figure 1. Storm reports relayed to the NWS  on 3 March 2012 after 7:00 AM EST (1200 UTC).

 

Figure 2 shows the damage path of the tornado path through Lowndes and Lanier Counties, with the damage points overlaid. An interactive version of this map is forthcoming. Details on the survey findings can be found in this public information statement.

 Damage path of the tornado that tracked across Lowndes and Lanier Counties in GA on Saturday, March 3, 2012. Damage areas are shown by the icons along the path. Click for a larger view.

Figure 2. Damage path of the tornado that tracked across Lowndes and Lanier Counties in GA on Saturday, March 3, 2012. Damage areas are shown by the icons along the path. Click for a larger view.

 

As the tornado was nearing maximum intensity in Lanier County, the doppler radar at Moody Air Force Base (Figure 3) detected a signature that is commonly referred to as a "debris ball". Around the same time, the tornado was captured on a cell phone video. We have talked with the person who recorded the video and determined that the time and location approximately matches up. A screen capture from the video is shown on the radar image, with the spot that the video was taken denoted by the video camera icon. Figure 4 shows before and after panoramas at the location of the EF-3 damage, where the tornado was at maximum intensity. The top panel was taken from Google Street View. The bottom panel was taken with a panorama app on one of the iPhone's of a survey team member.

FIgure 3. Radar imagery from the moody AFB (KVAX) Doppler radar valid at approximately 1:03 PM EST (1803 UTC) 3 March 2012. Base reflectivity is depicted with the "debris ball" indicated by the yellow arrow.

 

 

Figure 4. Before and after panoramas of the area of EF-3 damage from the tornado that ripped across parts of Lowndes and Lanier Counties on Saturday, 3 March 2012.

 

Page created by Mark Wool. Thanks go to to Alex Lamers and Parks Camp for the graphics.


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