Following the tornados: NWS confirms three tornados in county | News | The Press and Standard

by | May 11, 2017 8:47 am

By GEORGE SALSBERRY

gsalsberry@lowcountry.com

Officials of the National Weather Service office in Charleston have determined that Colleton County was hit by three tornados on the evening of May 4.

Bob Bright, a meteorologist with the NWS office, explained that the day after the weather event, a team of investigators was sent to Colleton County to follow the path of the tornados and assess the damage.

The inspection was the final step in determining if Colleton County had been hit by a tornado. The inspection, combined with the metrological data collected the night the storm passed through the county, allowed them to determine that three tornados were spawned by the same severe storm.

The investigation led the NWS on May 5 to formally determine that the county had indeed been hit by tornados on May 4.

On May 8, the NWS Charleston office issued a more detailed preliminary report on the tornados.

The preliminary report on the weather event determined that at approximately 7:45 p.m. on May 4, a funnel cloud touched down approximately one-half mile southwest of the Hendersonville rest area off Interstate 95, with a north-northeast intermittent path of approximately five-and-a-half  miles.

Along the path, the tornado crossed State Road S-15-28, snapping several trees. The tornado then continued north-northeast where it caused damage to a house and barn just north of Black Creek Road. Several snapped and uprooted trees along with a few downed power poles also occurred at this location.

The tornado then continued north-northeast crossing Magellan Road, where approximately 100 trees were snapped.

The tornado then continued north-northeast where it produced tree and home damage along Cane Branch Road.

At this point, the tornado path became continuous from the damage along Cane Branch Road until the tornado lifted along I-95. The tornado then traveled north-northeast toward Sniders Highway (Route 63), where it produced minor roof and siding damage to a mobile home, tossed a trampoline into a tree line about 20 feet off the ground, snapped a few trees and severely damaged an old barn, turning it on its side.

The tornado then crossed Highway 63, snapping two power poles and causing minor roof and siding damage to a two-story house.

The tornado then continued north crossing Donald Court Point, where a mobile home was seen leaning on cinder blocks along with skirting destroyed. Two adjacent mobile homes also received minor skirting damage.

The tornado continued north, gaining strength and width while approaching Walterboro.

The tornado’s maximum strength (EF1) and maximum width, one-fourth of a mile, were surveyed about one-fourth of a mile west of WalMart along Highway 64, where approximately 1,000 trees were either snapped, uprooted and/or severely damaged.

The tornado then returned to a north/northeast track, damaging dozens of trees while crossing Mount Carmel Road, before lifting approximately two miles north of exit 57 on Interstate 95 off of Windmere Lane where damage to trees, power lines and a large billboard occurred.

The path of that tornado measured 12.56 miles.

At 8:16 p.m., a second tornado touched down just west of McLeod Road, where it damaged the roofing and siding of a home on McLeod Road.

The tornado then traveled north-northeast producing intermittent damage along the path. The tornado produced extensive tree damage along Allen Creek just to the west of Route 15 where approximately 100 trees were snapped off, uprooted or severely damaged.

The tornado produced fence damage along Route 15, just north of Allen Creek, and thereafter produced intermittent tree damage along the path. The tornado crossed a cornfield about two miles east of Canadys where a convergent wind pattern was clearly evident.

The tornado snapped off, uprooted or damaged numerous trees in this area before dissipating just south of the Edisto River.

The second tornado had traveled a path 6.02 miles long and had a maximum path width of 125 yards.

The third tornado episode began at a starting point approximately two miles east of Canadys.

This tornado developed just southeast of the second tornado, likely as the second tornado was dissipating.

It then traveled north-northeast across the Edisto River and into Dorchester County.

This tornado snapped off, uprooted and damaged trees about two miles east of Canadys.

The damage from this tornado was clearly separate and about 1,000 feet east of the second tornado as it approached the Edisto River.

The tornado then dissipated along Utsey Hill Road in Dorchester County.

It was on the ground for a distance of 2.02 miles and had a maximum path width of 150 yards.

It spent just two minutes on the ground, rising back into the sky at approximately 8:28 p.m. in Dorchester County, at a point two miles southeast of Grover.

That same on-site assessment also led the investigators to determine the power of the tornado. All three of the tornado touchdowns were designated EF1.

According to the measuring tool, The Enhanced Fujita Scale, an EF1 is considered a weak tornado with winds measuring between 86 and 110.

All three of the tornados were on the high end of the EF1.

The first tornado had an estimated maximum wind speed of 110 miles per hour, the second and third tornadoes had an estimated maximum wind speed of 100 miles per hour.

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