The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
-Psalm 19:1

Do you know that God controls the clouds and makes his lightning flash?
-Job 37:15

Monday, March 17, 2008

Tornadoes ripped through the southeastern United States over the weekend

I will start by saying that my sincere thoughts and prayers go out to each and every person who was in any way adversely affected by the powerfully destructive tornado outbreak that impacted Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina over this past weekend. I have heard reports that 3 deaths are blamed on this rare tornadic event that literally wreaked havoc all over the southeastern states. The above graphic offered by the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) (who once again, did an outstanding job of warning of the potential for severe weather over the weekend, having elevated the risk to moderate and later to high and issuing a public severe weather outlook before it all began... kudos to the SPC) depicts the geographic impact of this severe weather event and historic tornado outbreak. You see there that (as of now, that combined with the last I heard) that there were 41 tornado reports during the weekend's monstrous storm. At this time, 14 tornadoes have been confirmed by the various National Weather Service offices. The Peachtree City National Weather Service office really has their work cut out for them, and hopefully other areas are chipping in with damage assessment, as that is a tremendous amount of ground to cover for that already strained area. I have included a link to their website. You can feel free to check their site for damage reports from the storm. Those should include ratings for all the assessed/confirmed tornadoes within their large county warn area.

The Birmingham National Weather Service has published its storm report, where they have determined that 2 EF-2 tornadoes were to blame for damage in Blount and Cherokee Counties in Alabama.

The National Weather Service office in Greenville/Spartanburg, South Carolina, confirmed 2 EF-0 tornadoes, one in Franklin and Hart Counties in Georgia, the other in Abbeville County, South Carolina.

The Columbia, South Carolina, National Weather Service Office, has a preliminary storm report posted, and they have yet to confirm all of the tornado reports, but do have some EF-3's listed on their map of tornado paths through that part of the state.

There is the National Weather Service Office in Charleston, SC, where they have reported 6 confirmed tornadoes, including 2 EF-2 tornadoes in Effingham County, Georgia and one EF-2 in Allendale County, South Carolina.

Then, there is the National Weather Service Office in Wilmington, North Carolina, where they have posted preliminary reports on what appears to be 7 confirmed EF-1 tornadoes and several Ef-0's within their CWA. I think that is all of the tornado reports from the weekend. Feel free to check back with those sites for updates.

In yesterday's post, I described the EF-2 tornado, that swept through downtown Atlanta, which has never occurred in recorded history. This particular EF-2 tornado had a 6 miles track, causing tremendous damage, crumbling parts of high rises, gouging holes in school dorms, blasting out windows in nearby buildings and cars, destroying residences and littering the city streets with debris of all sizes, in it's wake. It was a memorable night and subsequent day for many in that area. Though I wasn't up in the area chasing this event, my heart was in that area during the entire event. Having grown up near Atlanta, I have a large number of family and friends spread throughout the region, and with each tornado warning, my heart jumped up into my throat. Bear with me, as I share my own thoughts and reactions regarding the powerfully destructive tornado outbreak that struck the southeastern part of the United States on March 14 and 15, 2008, this past Friday and Saturday. Of course, I heard about the Dome and the assault on Atlanta when the tornado struck downtown Atlanta shortly after it occurred on Friday night, and it was shocking.

Yes, I am a storm chaser. Yes, I am passionate about weather and truly fascinated by these powerful and awesome storms that are created naturally. Let's not confuse that with a desire for something like this to happen. Tornadoes have in incredible beauty about them... over open land... in the open plains, when they aren't hurting people, animals or property. When a tornado outbreak occurs here, in Georgia, in the southeast anywhere, it loses its striking beauty and becomes a ravenous monster demolishing everything in its path, taking lives, causing injuries, destroying property and livelihoods. That is not to say that tornadoes do not impact lives and property in the plains, those are equally horrific (we saw what the EF-5 tornado did to the city of Greensburg, KS, when it slammed into a destroyed that city), it is only to make the point that when a tornado strikes over here, because of the differences in population density, the impact to lives and livelihoods is generally more likely. When I heard the reports about downtown Atlanta, my heart sank... God's hand was definitely upon the outcome of that scenario. Let's consider a "what if scenario" that Alabama Mike shared with me over the weekend... let's suppose that the 3 point shot that tied up that basketball game, that put the game into overtime at the Dome, hadn't happened; instead of people being in a less than safe, but fortunately almost adequate Georgia Dome for the EF-2 tornado that struck it Friday night, they would have been out dispersing into the streets directly into the path of this destructive tornado, directly in the path large and potentially deadly debris. I think that might have had a totally different outcome... or perhaps consider what if the tornado had been just slightly more powerful? That dome had large equipment rocking over people's heads, imagine if it had been shaken loose falling onto the many fans and players below, or God forbid (thanks to Him for forbidding it, in fact), the roof of the dome had collapsed. God is good. Thank God the "what ifs" are just that and not... "what did happens"...

I was watching a play during the bulk of the outbreak in north Georgia on Saturday. I was getting frequent updates from my dear friends about what was going on in their areas. During the play, my dear friend Jen, in Winder, texted that she could hear tornado sirens twice and that she was under tornado warnings. I instructed her to take her family and get in her closet... but she was letting me know how amazing the sky looked... Grr... we'll have to work on that... Another dear friend, Tracey, in Athens sent me a text saying that she thought she might be in a tornado warning and asked if I could offer information about it... My response, "SEEK SHELTER NOW!!!" Her message was hot on the heels of my dear Clarkesville friend, Roberta, saying that all was well with her, but that a friend and co-worker of her husband's had a tornado near his house in east Athens!! All the while, I was getting advisories texted to me by Alabama Mike who was giving specific updates about where significant rotation was showing up on radar, and I was contacting everyone in my contacts list in the area, warning them to stay vigilant. Thankfully, none were hurt or impacted, except for some significant hail here and there. It was when Alabama Mike sent me the Tornado Emergency message for Atlanta with a large and destructive tornado headed that way that my eyes teared up, and Mini-Dew asked, "Mommy, why are you crying? This is a funny part of the play..." I explained that my friend told me that there were dangerous tornado headed for the Atlanta area, and I was sad for the potential and because we have so many friends and family up there that I couldn't warn. I told her that I was very sad that tornadoes were hitting big cities. It was a humbling, helpless feeling and right there in the middle of the play, I began to beg God for mercy for all those in the path of that dangerous storm. I prayed and prayed and prayed. Now, God be with all those recovering.

Unfortunately, another round of severe weather is expected in the near future, as the SPC has outlined an area of slight risk of severe weather on Wednesday for the same region that was just hit over the weekend. This time, my neck of the woods is included in this area, but I sure hope those areas recovering will be spared. Currently, that system is making its way across Texas and Oklahoma, where a severe thunderstorm watch has been issued. I will definitely keep an eye on this one.

God bless,


  1. Devastating outbreak indeed. I still can't find any pictures or footage of the downtown EF2. Let me know if you find anything.


  2. I haven't seen anything, but Rick was talking about one this morning. I don't know what he saw or where, but I think he was talking about a webcam somewhere in Atlanta.

  3. A great summary of the devastation. I also thought about what a difference that overtime shot made in where people where! Dd's school seems to be fine, but she's home with strep today. Let's hope Tuesday's weather stays calm!

  4. Thanks, Nicole. I know that people are looking for compiled information after an event like this, so I try to gather as much as I can for those who visit my site. It makes a good historic reference too. Sorry about dd. Glad her school is ok.

  5. Great post Dew! That was very well written and really captures the heart of a good storm chaser/spotter.

    There is no doubt in my mind that God protected many people and answered many prayers as these events were transpiring.

  6. Thanks, Mike!! I really appreciate that feedback! They are my sincere thoughts, so I am glad to know they came through loud and clear.

  7. You decide whether it's a PhotoShop job or not, but here is an alleged pic of the downtown Atlanta tornado. I feel like I should add... Believe it... or not. All the commentary and thoughts are included on the forum. Thanks, Mike, for sharing.

  8. That is an amazing picture, not sure what to believe but it is pretty incredible.

  9. I think it was authentic, but I will listen to Josh Johnson, ATL Channel 11 met tonight to see what he says.

  10. They were actually showing it on TWC this morning, so I guess perhaps it is the real deal. I think I will post it today, see what people think. Thanks for sharing it, Mike.


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