Friday, January 20, 2012

Official report: 3 tornadoes

I somehow missed passing along the final report from the National Weather Service about the tornadoes last week in the North Carolina foothills.

As we had theorized last week, three counties were affected by the twisters. Burke and Rutherford counties got the headlines, because the twisters destroyed dozens of homes and injured 15 people there. But a third tornado touched down in Caldwell County.

Here is a summary of the storms:

RUTHERFORD COUNTY ... An EF2 tornado, with top winds of 115 mph, injured 10 people and was on the ground for about 2.3 miles.

The storm touched down 2.5 miles northwest of Ellenboro, initially reaching the ground northeast of Bridge Road and Pinehurst Road. A second brief tornado touched down moments later on Tiney Road.

But the major touchdown was near Piney Mountain Church and Piney Mountain roads. The twister was on the ground for more than 2 miles, finally lifting north of Salem Church Road.

About 10 homes were damaged, and several mobile homes were destroyed. Debris from the mobile homes was thrown about 300 yards. The tornado reached peak intensity along Piney Mountain Road, just south of Walls Church Road.

BURKE COUNTY ... The tornado touched down about 5 miles south-southwest of Icard, was on the ground for 3.6 miles, and had top winds of 130 mph. It was a high-end EF2 twister.

The tornado produced brief and intermittent damage south-southwest of George Hildebran School Road before developing more sustained damage on the south side of the road. The tornado stayed on the ground across Paige Street, but the most intense damage was around Johnson Bridge Road.

The eight Burke County injuries happened near Johnson Bridge Road, and on Rock Lane, River Rock Drive and South Fork Avenue. The storm's greatest width, 300 yards, was along George Hildebran School Road and Rock Lane.

CALDWELL COUNTY ... An EF0 tornado (the weakest classification) struck near the Lake Hickory Marina, about 4 miles southeast of Granite Falls. This twister had top winds of 80 mph and was on the ground less than a quarter-mile. It damaged a number of boats and buildings at the lake.