COWETA COUNTY, Ga. — It was Georgia's strongest tornado in a decade, March 25th into the early morning hours of the 26th, an EF-4 tornado hit the heart of Coweta county.
The long-track tornado was on the ground for nearly 39 miles. At peak intensity, it had winds up to 170 mph. At the same time, its path width was over a mile wide, spanning 1850 yards.
The storm first touched down in Heard County and strengthened to an EF-2 in Franklin. As it crossed the county line into Coweta, it strengthened even more.
A rare "tornado emergency" was issued by the National Weather Service in Peachtree City, signaling a large a destructive tornado was on the ground.
As meteorologists, our hearts sank covering this storm. We looked at our Debris Tracker mode of the radar and saw the debris lofted in the air in the southwest suburbs of Newnan.
Some of the worst damage was along Smokey Road and Lagrange Street in southwest Newnan. There were several newly built single family homes that were wiped off their foundation.
There was one indirect fatality. But it's amazing that there were not any additional fatalities. It was a nocturnal, large, strong tornado hitting a more densely populated area.
Keith Stellman, Meteorologist-in-Charge at the National Weather Service in Peachtree City, said a combination of early lead time, Wireless Emergency Alerts, and a lot of public awareness and pre-storm TV coverage on local stations created the urgency for everyone to take shelter.
But yet, there were some houses where it was a miracle people survived.
This was Georgia's strongest tornado in a decade. The last EF-4 the state had was in 2011 during the April 27th Super Outbreak. Since 1950, there have been a total of 10 EF-4 or F4 tornadoes to touch down in the Peach State.