Updated: Apr 15
Stephens County Emergency Management Director Danielle Rhodes is working to provide an updated list of road closures. Currently, county road crews are out working to clear downed trees, but are required to leave any trees with associated downed power lines for the electrical crews to handle. Citizens who are working to clear trees and other road obstructions are advised to also avoid working around downed or damaged power lines. Citizens are also reminded that the Shelter-In-Place rules and the Social Distancing Guidelines are still in effect due to COVID-19.
The EF-1 rated tornado that sliced through Stephens County in the early hours of Monday, April 13, made its first touchdown in Stephens County at 3:06 a.m, National Weather Service Meteorologists Doug Outlaw told ConnectLocal.News in a 10:30 a.m. phone interview today.
The storm system, which caused loss of life and extensive property damage across Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi and Alabama, left behind not only rotational-wind damage, but dumped more than 5 inches of rain in little more than two hours in some areas.
The tornado that uprooted trees, tore roofs off homes, and left downed power lines across a swath of Stephens County touched down two miles south of the Georgia State Patrol Post 7 in Boydville. After touching down near the intersection of Nub Garland Road and Highway 184, the tornado traveled on the ground, cutting south then east, for 8.7 miles before drawing back up off the ground three miles N.E. of Eastanollee. Significant damage was left behind along Nub Garland Road, East Leatherwood Road, and Highway 106/Mize Road. It apparently crossed Hwy.17 in the vicinity of Oggs Branch, and further extensive damage was left behind along Whispering Pines Drive and Hwy 386/Brookhaven. Homes and power lines in the Bruce Creek Boat Ramp area of Gumlog were also severely damaged, especially on Imperial Drive and Century Drive, and the area is still without power as of 12:30 p.m. today, April 14.
Winds reached 110 miles per hour, according to NWS data. Under the Enhanced Fujita Tornado Rating Scale, an EF-1 tornado rating is used for tornados with winds between 86-110 miles per hour. An EF-1 tornado is considered ‘moderate,’ while an EF-2 tornado, with winds of 111-135 mph is considered ‘considerable.’ The Stephens County tornado’s path was 550 yards, or just over a quarter mile wide at its widest point.
No Stephens County fatalities were reported from the storm, and no injuries had been reported to NWS as of 8 a.m. this morning, Outlaw said.
After the tornado lifted just northeast of Eastanolllee, the storm system continued into South Carolina, where the tornado touched down again three miles southeast of Westminister as a EF-3 with 160-mph winds. An EF-3 tornado is rated as “severe.’ The tornado then stayed on the ground for 16.66 miles, passing through Seneca before reaching its endpoint two miles west of Central in Pickens County. The tornado left one known fatality in Seneca, with two people still listed as missing as of 10:30 a.m.
It is unusual for a tornado to stay on the ground for a significant length of time in the southern region, unlike the flat open ares of the midwest, Outlaw said. The 16.6 miles the tornado stayed on the ground in South Carolina is very uncharacteristic of tornados in this region, he said.