Monday Night Weather
Monday Night Weather: Coweta County escapes worst of storms
by Sarah Fay Campbell
By SARAH FAY CAMPBELL
With mostly downed trees and power lines, Coweta escaped the worst damage from Monday evening’s storms.
The storms spawned by a weather front moving in from the west wreaked havoc in most of Georgia, and a good part of Alabama, and a handful of school systems canceled classes on Tuesday.
There was minor damage throughout most of northern Georgia, though there were few reports of major damage.
Two deaths have been linked to the storms.
James Agan was killed in Cave Spring in Polk County Monday night when a tree crashed into his vehicle, according to the Rome News Tribune. Agan’s son was also in the vehicle but sustained non life-threatening injuries.
Allen Sims was killed in Talbot County. He was riding in a truck pulling a trailer when the driver swerved to avoid a tree across the road.
The areas that caught the worst of the storm included Floyd and Polk counties in northwest Georgia and Pike, Meriwether and Lamar counties just south and east of Coweta.
The biggest damage from the storm was in Floyd County near Rome. The Silver Creek Minimart convenience store was destroyed. Employees took cover in the store’s cooler. Homes around the store were also damaged.
Survey teams from the National Weather Service were out Tuesday trying to determine if any of the damage was caused by tornados.
Only one tornado was confirmed, said Ryan Wills, meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Peachtree City.
That tornado began in Meriwether County and ended in Pike County, he said. The tornado was classified as an EF2, with estimated peak winds of 120 mph. “They’re still fine tuning the exact track of it,” Willis said, but it’s estimated to be 13.5 miles.
The tornado struck a very rural area. “The vast majority of damage was trees down. It’s estimated thousands of trees were blown down from that tornado,” Willis said. Two outbuildings and a barn were destroyed, and some homes were damaged. There don’t appear to have been any injuries related to the tornado.
The damage in Floyd and Polk counties was caused by “really strong straight line wind damage,” Willis said. The winds were estimated at 80 to 100 mph.
The weather service sends survey teams after storms to any area that might have experienced a tornado. They visit areas where there were tornado warnings, where the radar indicated tornados or where there were reports of tornados. Surveyors can determine whether damage was caused by tornados or straight line winds by looking at the pattern of damage.
Heard, Pike, and Polk county schools were closed on Tuesday, with plans for all to reopen today.
Linda Tanner, deputy superintendent for Pike County Schools, said the major reason schools were closed was that there was no power to the middle and high school. There were also issues with buses not being able to get to some areas because of storm debris in the roads. The roads were clear by mid-afternoon Tuesday and hopes were that power would be restored soon.
Heard County Fire Department Chief Scott Blue said most of the damage in Heard County was from winds and hail. “We’re still evaluating. We’re going out and assessing the damage right now,” Blue said. The schools were closed because of power outages, he said. Blue said they had no reports of any injuries related to the storm.
Baseball-sized hail was reported along Interstate 285 in Clayton County. Tennis ball sized hail was reported in Fayetteville and golfball sized hail was reported at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and in Henry County. There was significant hail damage to homes in Henry County.
There’s no additional severe weather forecast for the next week or so. “We do have rain in the forecast, but it is going to be more of just rain with embedded thunderstorms,” said Willis and “nothing that looks severe.”
The forecast for today, the first day of spring, is for mostly sunny skies with “scattered sprinkles” and a high near 62. Tonight’s forecast low is 32.
Thursday will be sunny and 54; Thursday night will be cloudy, with a low of 24 — and even a 20 percent chance of rain, sleet, and snow.
There’s a 40 percent chance of rain and snow before 8 a.m. Friday, which will switch over to rain after 8 a.m.
There’s a 40 percent chance of showers Friday night, with a low of 39, a 50 percent chance of showers Saturday with a high of 54, a 40 percent chance of showers with a low of 43 Saturday night, and a 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms Sunday, with a high near 61.