National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Damaging Wind Associated with Funnel Cloud Passing Over Coweta County, Georgia
May 7, 2003

by Matt Sena

A severe thunderstorm exhibiting a strong rotational signature on the WFO Peachtree City WSR-88D radar moved across eastern Coweta County on the evening of Wednesday May 7, 2003, from approximately 7:30 through 8:00 PM EDT. After the storm moved through, reports of damage were received. On Thursday May 8, 2003, with the assistance of the Civil Air Patrol, a short aerial survey was conducted. All significant damage was found in the Lower Fayetteville Road and SummerGrove Subdivision area.

The first signs of wind damage found from the air were in the SummerGrove Subdivision east of Interstate 85 and south of Lower Fayetteville road. The damage in the western end of the subdivision [ map of Georgia highlighting location of Bleckley County ] was confined to random trees blown over in yards in the subdivision. The first signs of large, contiguous areas of trees blown down were found along the northern edge of the subdivision along Lower Fayetteville road at the intersection with Sullivan road. These trees were blown over in a uniform direction pointing from the southwest to the northeast. A short distance to the east, on the north side of Lower Fayetteville road, just past the intersection with Lora Smith road, a large, triangular area of trees was blown over. All of these trees were laying in a southwest to northeast direction. Another widespread area of trees blown was over, with all of these trees also laying in a southwest to northeast direction, was located on the north of side of Lower Fayetteville road on the east shore of Chandler's Lake. Only random, single or small clusters of damage to trees was witnessed east of Highway 154 along Lower Fayetteville road, and no damage was seen east of Fisher road. Scattered evidence of minor damage to houses was also noted along this entire path. This damage was mostly observed to be in the form of peeled shingles and other light to moderate damage to roofs and siding, and a few instances of trees falling and striking a portion of nearby houses.

Based on this pattern of damage it appears that all damage seen was due to strong, straight-line winds, and not due to tornadic winds. The location of the damage in relation to the strong rotational signature seen in the velocity images from the Peachtree City radar indicate that it is likely that strong winds flowing into the strongly rotating thunderstorm, and not downburst winds were responsible.

Examples of Damage in Coweta County, Georgia ( click images to enlarge )
[ numerous trees down in subdivision ] [ swath of trees blown down in one direction ] [ damage on east shore of Chandler's Lake ]

Maps courtesy Georgia Department of Community Affairs