National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Damaging Wind Associated with Straight Line Winds Over Whitfield County, Georgia
August 20, 2004

by Matt Sena

On the evening of Friday, August 20, 2004 a severe thunderstorm rolled through the Cedar Valley and Toonnerville area of Whitfield County. This area is located around 5 to 10 miles northeast of Dalton, Georgia. A resident in the area contacted the National Weather Service office in Peachtree City reporting wind damage and quarter sized hail from this storm, occurring between 6:30 and 6:45 PM Friday evening.

On Sunday morning, August 22, 2004 Barry Gooden and Matt Sena from the National Weather Service office in Peachtree City traveled to the area to perform a damage survey. Scattered damage to trees was noted along a west to east path bounded by Boyle’s Mill Rd on the north, by Presley Rd on the south, and centered on Bowers Rd. The path was approximately 2 miles wide and between 1 and 2 miles long. Most damage noted consisted of large, main branches broken off of trees. One tree was found uprooted along Boyle’s Mill RD. At a residence on Bowers Rd a large trampoline was lifted and carried approximately 50 feet along the front of the house and deposited against a tree. The trampoline appeared damaged beyond repair. Also at this residence, which appears to be at or near the center of the damage area, roof damage occurred to an outbuilding behind the main home. Several trees had large, main branches broken off. All of the trees damaged were blown in a general easterly direction, with trees along the northern edge of the damage path exhibiting a slight north of east orientation, and trees along the southern edge showing a slight south of east orientation. Quarter sized hail accompanied the storm; however, no damage other than small limbs and leaves stripped from trees was caused by the hail.

The damage found was consistent with straight-line wind damage. No evidence of tornadic wind damage was seen. An area of tall grass was investigated for signs of rotational wind patterns. The only signature found was an approximately 4 to 6 foot diameter area just upwind from the base of a steel windmill tower. This area was so small that it appears to be more likely that a small eddy in the strong straight-line winds at the base of this tower caused this feature.

Examples of Damage in Whitfield County, Georgia ( click images to enlarge )
[ Original location of trampoline blown 50 feet in front of home ] [ Closer view of trampoline resting against tree ]
[ Swirl pattern in tall grass on upwind side of windmill tower - diameter of pattern is approximately 4-6 feet ] [ Swirl pattern in tall grass on upwind side of windmill tower - diameter of pattern is approximately 4-6 feet ]