Photos I took today of powerful Georgia tornado (aftermath)

After seeing an aerial photo on the Peachtree City, GA WSFO website showing apparent pavement scouring caused by a severe tornado in southwest Georgia last Thursday (which later devastated Americus), I drove down this morning to take a close up look and pics. The location is in rural Webster county, Georgia.....on E. Centerpoint road 3 miles northeast of the Chambliss community; also about 15 miles WSW of downtown Americus (where the hospital was struck). Please note that Webster county works crews had already covered the scoured pavement with dirt/gravel & hauled away the peeled pavement before I arrived; aerial photo by WSFO FFC was taken Friday....before county work crews arrived on scene).

I value the opinions of the stormchasers and tornado experts here to the tornado's intensity. I've been researching tornadoes and observing tornado damage/ aftermaths since the mid-1970's, and have never seen anything of this intensity in the state of Georgia before; am frankly amazed WSFO FFC only assigned this an EF3 rating (because I've seen the damage from several F4's in their CWA before [Putnam county GA 11/22/92; Kennesaw GA 11/22/92; Bartow county GA 3/27/94] and didn't observe scoured pavement; have never observed scoured pavement after a Georgia tornado).

Link:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/southernwx/

Thanks in advance,
Perry
 
Some think that a culvert nearby caused that pavement to weaken and detach from the ground. I am not sure....and would likely have to see this area before I made any kind of decision on what kind of estimate I would give it.
 
I think the NWS FFC needs to seriously reconsider their rating of this tornado. Given the fact that it was only resurfaced two years ago and was on a flat surface, I'd say this at the very least EF-4 damage, if not EF-5. Since only a thirtyish foot long section of pavement was scoured, I'm willing to bet the tornado was multi-vortex and the pavement was scoured by one of the powerful suction vortices. Also, the complete debarking of the trees and the fact that the houses were completely demolished and only the slab foundations of the houses were left behind screams high end EF-4 or low end EF-5. The pictures you took have comparable level of complete destruction seen in pictures from other F5's such Jarrell in '97, Birmingham in '98 and Moore in '99.:eek: I think it would be prudent for a QRT to survey this tornado, as there is not a doubt in my mind that this tornado was much stronger than the assigned EF-3 rating. Thank God it did weaken to EF-3 intensity as it tore through Americus, otherwise there would have been NOTHING left of that town.
 
I was on this storm during the evening of March 1, 2007. As the storm entered GA, it was faily weak, but rapidly gained strength. I would estimate we were within 10 to 15 miles of the actual tornado, but never saw it. I'm really glad I played it cautiously with this supercell because it was dark and apparently it produced a very devestating tornado. The one thing we were able to make out amidst the lighitning was a very intense inflow area. It was bell-shaped and bands of low clouds were screaming into the storm. I'm not suprised to see this kind of damage from such a storm. I believe this tornado deserves a second look as well. Most of the surveying may have actually taken place in Americus where the damage wasn't quite as severe. It seems like the only way an EF-4 or EF-5 rating will be assigned is if debris is broken down to the molecular level. I've never heard of pavement scouring from a tornado in GA either.
 
My guess from looking at the photographs it that the tracked equipment brought in for the cleanup accidentally started breaking up the edge of the road opposite the house. Seeing this, the crews put a layer of gravel on the road to prevent further damage to the roadway as the heavy tracked equipment made trips back and forth.

I’m basing this on a couple of observations:
1. The broken edge of road is seen coming out from under the gravel. This part of the road still has bright sideline paint stripes visible.
2. The fact that there is still grass in the soil seen on both sides of the road where the gravel is. A wind strong enough to scour pavement is surely strong enough to scour grass off of the ground.

Of course, I was not there and am only basing my conclusions off of the photographs given.
 
I think the NWS FFC needs to seriously reconsider their rating of this tornado. Given the fact that it was only resurfaced two years ago and was on a flat surface, I'd say this at the very least EF-4 damage, if not EF-5. Since only a thirtyish foot long section of pavement was scoured, I'm willing to bet the tornado was multi-vortex and the pavement was scoured by one of the powerful suction vortices. Also, the complete debarking of the trees and the fact that the houses were completely demolished and only the slab foundations of the houses were left behind screams high end EF-4 or low end EF-5. The pictures you took have comparable level of complete destruction seen in pictures from other F5's such Jarrell in '97, Birmingham in '98 and Moore in '99.:eek: I think it would be prudent for a QRT to survey this tornado, as there is not a doubt in my mind that this tornado was much stronger than the assigned EF-3 rating. Thank God it did weaken to EF-3 intensity as it tore through Americus, otherwise there would have been NOTHING left of that town.
There is no DI for pavement in the EF scale ratings. So, while a person doing a survey can think of it while doing the survey, you cannot apply the EF scale to pavement scouring. Further, on the road, I would wonder how good the pavement was down (I am assuming the tornado went right to left)...there is a large crack running down the right side of the photo from the edge of the photo right into where the pavement is missing. Also, while there are SOME trees that are debarked, I would note that many of them are not debarked. Further, the ones in the aerial that can obviously be noted as debarked are all behind the house and looks like the debarking occured at a fairly consistent height---suggesting debris and not the wind alone debarked them. Further more, some trees are still up and with some small limbs still attached (not consistent with a high rating). And as was already mentioned (in this thread and another), the house being completely destroyed is not necessarily EF4/5 damage...it can be extremely high EF-3 damage. No one knows the quality of the home, so criticizing the rating doesn't do any good.
 
The tree damage sure looks pretty much along the lines of what would be expected within the damage path core of a F4 tornado. It sure adds much support to the thought that this may have in fact been F4 type damage near Chambliss. This is certainly just an armchair analysis...but good pics Perry to back up your argument.
 
Back
Top