National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Summary of North Georgia
Tornado Event of December 22, 2011


Event Summary

An area of low pressure developed over the lower Mississippi Valley region and moved through portions of Alabama and Northwest Georgia through the afternoon and evening hours of Decemeber 22nd. Along and ahead of this feature, a low level wind profile was in place, conducive for the formation of tornadoes given sufficient storm development. Six storms embedded within a larger line of moderate showers were able to reach an intensity that enabled them to take advantage of the wind profile and produce tornadoes. By far the most significant damage was the result of a storm that developed as it entered Floyd county and spawned the first tornado west of Rome, GA. The tornado progressed northeast toward the Walton Creek subdivision where EF2 conditions were experienced with significant damage to area homes. This tornado would eventually lift briefly before touching down again over extreme Northeast Floyd county. This tornado would eventually strengthen to an EF3 at its maximum intensity near Boone Ford Rd southeast of Calhoun, GA. One home was completely destroyed with debris thrown hundreds of yards. A nearby barn was also destroyed with major to moderate roof damage to many nearby homes.

A third tornado was confirmed by a NWS survey team over Southern Coweta county near the Moreland, GA area. This tornado reached EF1 intensity at its peak resulting in the roof being removed from a residence. The tornado was shortlived, on the ground for only a mile, but was able to down dozens of trees in it's path.

A fourth tornado was confirmed in Gilmer county by Emergency Management personnel. This tornado occurred about a half mile east of the Murray-Gilmer county line along Georgia Highway 136. Although this tornado was estimated at an EF0, it managed to put down dozens of trees, some of which fell on a church.

The final two tornadoes were an EF0 over northern Fayette county and a seperate EF1 over southern Fayette county. Both storms occured over mainly rural sections of the county but were able to down dozens of trees in their paths.

As of this event, 2011 ranks 3rd for the number of tornadoes per year from 1995-2011.

Storm surveys were conducted following the event. Information posted below is based on results from survey teams and will be updated as additional information is received.

Counties Date and Time Began Rating # of Injuries KML
Floyd December 22, 4:50 PM EST EF-2 3
Floyd, Gordon, Bartow December 22, 5:03 PM EST EF-3 1
December 22, 5:44 PM EST EF-1 0
December 22, 5:32 PM EST EF-0 0
Northern Fayette December 22, 6:18 PM EST EF-0 0
Southern Fayette Decmeber 22, 6:16 PM EST EF-1 0


EF3 Tornado

Floyd Gordon Bartow Counties

A National Weather Service assessment team investigated damage associated with thunderstorms that moved across Floyd and Gordon Counties during the evening of December 22, 2011. It was determined that an EF-0 tornado began in far northeast Floyd county near Highway 140 about 2.75 miles north of Shannon and strengthened to EF-1 intensity along Emily lane just east of Plainville in southwest Gordon county where several homes were damaged from falling trees. The tornado then strengthened to EF-3 intensity, with maximum winds of 135 mph, at the corner of Boone Ford road and Beason road near Calhoun, where a home was completely destroyed. Shortly after this...the tornado weakened to an EF-0 and dissipated. Preliminary damage reports estimate that several homes were completely destroyed and numerous trees downed.

Path of EF-3 tornado that struck Gordon County
[ Tornado Damage from Bartow county. ]
Aerial View of Tornado damage in Gordon County.
[ Tornado Damage from Catoosa county. ]
Another aerial view of Tornado Damage to a home in Gordon County, GA.
[ Tornado Damage from Catoosa county. ]
Remains of a house east of Calhoun

[ Reflectivity image of Catoosa Tornado. ]

  EF-3 Tornado Damage east of Calhoun, GA

[ Storm Relative Velocity of Catoosa tornado. ]

More EF-3 Tornado Damage east of Calhoun, GA


EF2 Tornadoes

Floyd County

A National Weather Service assessment team was dispatched to Floyd County near Rome to investigate damage associated with thunderstorms that moved through the evening of December 22, 2011. It was determined that EF-1 tornado touched down just west of the Rome city limits near the end of Holland Dr. The tornado strengthened to EF-2 as the storm progressed northeast into the Walton Creek subdivision where several well-constructed homes lost their roofs. The EF-1 to EF-2 damage continued for approximately a mile and a half as it crossed Shorter Ave and North Division St, where more homes and a few businesses were damaged. A large storage facility used by Berry College was heavily damaged on John Davenport drive. The tornado eventually weakened and dissipated west of highway 53 and east of Jones Bend road.

Path of EF-2 tornado that struck Floyd County
[ Tornado Damage from Floyd County ]
Damage to a warehouse in Floyd County
[ Tornado Damage from Floyd County ]
Destroyed home in Rome
[ Tornado Damage from Floyd County ]
Aerial View of Damage over Rome, GA


EF1 Tornado

Coweta County

A National Weather Service assessment team dispatched to Coweta County determined that strong straight-lined winds were initially responsible for isolated trees and power line damage just north of Grantville. As the storm progressed northeast, a circulation developed and tightened between Grantville and Moreland resulting in short lived tornado damage. A damage path of just over a mile long was found with EF-1 damage beginning near Polk road. Dozens of trees were snapped as it moved toward Dingler road. One home on Polk road had most of its roof removed and several trees on the property were uprooted and snapped..

Path of EF-1 tornado that struck Coweta County
[ Tornado Damage from Coweta county. ]
Damage to a House and Trees Down in Coweta County
[ Tornado Damage from Coweta county. ]
Roof Damage to a Home due to EF-1 Tornado in Coweta County
[ Tornado Damage from Coweta Co. ]
More Trees Down in Coweta Co

Southern Fayette County

An NWS assessment team determined that a weak tornado with winds of 95 mph touched down around 616 pm EST on the northeast shore of Lake Horton near the end of Woolsey Creek Trail and just west of highway 92. The tornado traveled 1.6 miles with intermittent damage along the path before it lifted at the end of Mud Bridge road. A total of 35 trees were downed or snapped. Two homes received minor roof damage and a large barn was destroyed.

EF0 Tornado

Gilmer County

A tornado was confirmed in Gilmer County by Emergency Management personnel. The tornado touched down approximately ½ mile east of the Murray-Gilmer County line, and roughly paralleled Georgia Highway 136 for 1.4 miles. The width of the tornado at its widest was approximately 300 yards, downing around 100 trees. Some of these trees fell on the Shady Grove church which sustained minor structural damage.

[ Tornado Damage from Gilmer county. ]
Trees down on and around Shady Grove Church

Gilmer County

[ Tornado Damage from Gilmer county. ]
Trees down on and around Shady Grove Church

Gilmer Count

Northern Fayette County

An NWS damage survey concluded a weak tornado, rated EF-0 with maximum winds of 80 mph, touched down near Lees Mill road just west of Georgia Highway 92 in northern Fayette County. The tornado traveled northeast about 1 mile. About 50 trees and 6 power poles were snapped or downed especially along Hill road. One home also suffered minor roof damage from winds only on hill rd.

Dual Polarization radar captures debris from Coweta and Fayette county torndoes

The KFFC WSR-88D recently completed a dual-polarization upgrade, which allows for the detection of the nature and orientation of meteorological echoes, such as raindrops, snow and ice. Because of the high sensitivity of the radar, the orientation of other non-meteorological echoes can also be detected, sometimes including debris from tornadoes. See this training presentation and other training modules from the NWS Warning Decision Training Branch for more information.

[ Reflectivity near Moreland, GA from 12/22/11. ] [ Velocity near Moreland, GA  from 12/22/11. ] [ Correlation Coefficient near Moreland, GA from 12/21/11. ]

From left to right, the reflectivity, velocity and correlation coefficient show the brief tornado near Moreland, GA. Rotation indicated in the velocity is strong, and 5 minutes later, debris is detected, indicated by the lower values of correlation coefficient (CC). The white line on the velocity and CC images indicate the actual track of the tornado determined by a NWS survey of the damage. Research from NOAA dual-polarization radars have shown that values of CC < 0.8 are associated with non-meteorological echoes. These signatures, also known as Tornado Debris Signatures, were also seen with the northern and southern Fayette County tornadoes this day.