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NWS: No tornado in destructive Athens area storm

Photo by Michelle Collins

By Joe Johnson

Widespread damage caused by the storm that roared through the Athens area Thursday evening was caused by straight line wind and not a tornado, according to Dylan Lusk, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Peaachtree City.

NWS personnel have examined the downed trees and power lines and other damage along the storm's path of destruction and determined it was consistent with the effects of straight line winds.

Straight line winds are thunderstorm winds that have no rotation, i.e. not a tornado. Downbursts are a common cause of wind damage from a thunderstorm.

Photo by Michelle Collins

Lusk said that the NWS has examined photographs of what appeared to be funnel clouds that were taken during the Athens storm, but it was determined that they were scud clouds, which hover close to the ground but lack the rotation of tornadoes.

He said the top wind gust during the storm was 69 mph, measured at the Athens-Ben Epps Airport.

Georgia Power reported over 20,000 customers in Athens-Clarke County lost power because of utility lines being blown down by wind and fallen trees.

As of noon Friday, over 9,000 customers in the county remained without power.

According to Lusk, as the NWS continues to evaluate any new evidence and observations, the final determination of the Athens storm possibly could be that it involved a tornado.

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Thank you Joe.

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