Just 24 hours after the storm struck, residents across West Rome had begun to clean up following a storm that struck the area Thursday Afternoon, dropping a tornado that was rated an EF-2 on the Enhanced Fujita scale.
Officials with the National Weather Service?s Atlanta area office confirmed Thursday afternoon following both a ground that Rome was struck by an EF-2 rated tornado.The rating, which looks at different factors including damage, indicates that the tornado brought winds of around 111- 135 Miles Per Hour. According to preliminary reports, it appears that the tornado first touched down in the Wilkerson Road area, and continued on a northeast track, crossing Shorter Avenue near Cherry Street before bearing down on Division Street at John Davenport Drive and into Summerville Park. Areas of Northeastern Floyd County towards Ward Mountain were also damaged by the storm, and were reportedly still without power Friday evening.
The tornado also damaged major businesses in the area, and many were till closed Friday. By Friday Afternoon, contractors had covered the machinery inside the Fairbanks Company building, which experienced major wall collapse and roof damage from the tornado. A daycare center across the street also remained closed, as it received moderate damage to both the building and playground, and lost its dumpster which was thrown into a nearby field. The other large business affected by the tornado was the West Rome IGA Grocery Store. While the building only received light damage in the tornado, the store was still closed, and its parking lot blocked off. According to store owner Keith Clark, the store regained power around 4:00 pm Friday, but lost all of its cold merchandise. Clark spoke to RNW on the back loading of the store, where he was assisting his workers in disposing of the ruined meats and other cold groceries in a large dumpster.
This was the second reported tornado in Floyd County in 2011, which has proven to be a very tornadic year for the Southeastern United States. The other 2011 tornado struck Floyd County on April 27, when the same storm cell that destroyed parts of Tuscaloosa and Birmingham set its sights on the Cave Springs and Chubbtown areas. Earlier that same day in April, the same area that fell victim to Thursday?s storm was hit by straight line winds, which caused significant damage. Rome lies within what is called the ?Dixie Alley,? which is smaller and slightly less active zone of tornadic weather. This region has been more active in recent years, as evidenced by the 2010 Yazoo City, MS Tornado and the 2011 Tuscaloosa Tornado.
Thursday?s storm was part of a line of storms extending through the region along a cold front. Unlike the monster storms of this past April which were stand-alone supercells, this particular tornado was spawned by a multicell type storm. These storms, such as squall lines, are known for spawning damaging straight line winds more than they are known for spawning tornadoes. Still, they stand a chance of ?spinning up? a tornado, which are usually weaker and short lived such as the one on Thursday.Because of this fact, it is hard for weather offices to issue tornado warnings from radar, which is where they rely on trained weather spotters to be their eyes in the field.
Friday Afternoon, members of the RNW Affiliated Northwest Georgia Severe Weather Team toured the area on a damage survey, and saw many sights that they had seen in their damage encounters before. While the weather team, who can usually be found in the field chasing around the region, was not out at the time of the tornado Thursday, but experienced the storm first hand as it moved across the city, and were live answering questions and covering the storms aftermath for most of Thursday evening.
The same line of storms were also blamed for dropping several other tornadoes across the region, including an EF-0 in Columbiana, AL and an EF-1 in Coweta County, GA.