Tornadoes occur throughout Georgia, and most frequently in the spring. If you live in a tornado-prone area, it is important to have a tornado shelter at your home or in your yard.
A storm requires four main conditions to form a tornado: wetness, wind shear, instability, and the ability to lift air. Friday's storms were rare “low-precipitation” supercells, according to Steve Nelson of the National Weather Service office in Atlanta.
The Georgia region is no stranger to severe weather, with tornadoes happening regularly in some areas. In fact, the Atlanta area has experienced more tornadoes than the rest of the state since 1950.
Several counties were hit by tornadoes on Thursday as powerful storms swept across the state, leaving a swath of destruction in their wake. A few of those tornadoes were tracked on Channel 2 Action News, with Meteorologist Brian Monahan and Chief Meteorologist Brad Nitz in the right spot to see the damage.
One hit Griffin, damaging a Hobby Lobby and other businesses near the University of Georgia campus. Others left behind a trail of trees snapped in half, tiles toppled from roofs and porches ripped off their footings.
In Troup County, an EF2 tornado caused damage to pine trees and completely destroyed a manufactured home. It also hit northeastern Chambers County, leaving a path of damage to porches and siding. Throughout the state, reports of damage were also coming in.
Georgia has a long history of tornadoes. The state is considered a moderate risk of tornadoes, and experts say that the number of reported tornadoes is increasing.
Severe weather is most common in the North Georgia region in late February and early April, but storms can occur at any time. Tornadoes are typically produced in thunderstorms with a circulation aloft (mesocyclone) that grows upward through the storm and downward toward the ground.
One such tornado outbreak in North Georgia occurred on Palm Sunday in 1994 when significant tornadoes ravaged many mountain counties, including Troup County. The most significant damage was seen along Kendall Drive snapping healthy pine trees, ripping off roofs and destroying homes.
Other tornadoes caused substantial damage in other areas in the region. The largest was a strong EF-3 that crossed Rover-Zetella Road with wind peaks of 145 mph. It also hit Griffin on Kendall Drive, where it destroyed numerous homes and businesses, including a UGA facility at Demsey Farm.
In Georgia, tornadoes are a major cause of death and property damage. According to the National Weather Service, the state has experienced over 130 confirmed tornadoes since 1950.
A major storm system moved across Alabama and Georgia on Thursday, spawning a series of tornadoes that left a path of destruction. One EF-3, the Old Kingston-Lake Martin Tornado, killed seven people in Autauga County and caused minor impacts in other states.
Another EF-2 tornado hit southwest Spalding and northwestern Pike counties. It shifted several homes off their foundations and destroyed one home along Kendall Drive, reports Spalding officials.
A tornado also touched down in Butts County, snapping trees along Hwy 36 and causing some EF-2 damage. It crossed Pebble Ridge Drive, Hunters Trace and Campbell Road before it entered Jasper County.
Tornadoes are one of the most unpredictable and frightening storms in nature. They can strike at any time of year and at almost any location, forming on land or water.
During the spring, tornadoes are more common across north Georgia. They usually occur between March and May with a peak in April, but they can happen anytime of the year.
The best way to prepare for a tornado is to stay informed about severe weather watches and warnings. This can be done by monitoring local TV stations, radio, NOAA weather radio and/or weather-related Websites.
If a tornado is imminent, seek shelter in a basement, storm cellar, safe room or interior room away from windows. Avoid going outside in an automobile because you offer little protection.