STORM ANALYSIS: Apparent tornadoes responsible for damage

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — The storm survey team of meteorologists from the Tallahassee branch of the National Weather Service will conduct on-site reviews of wind- and suspected tornado-related damage in Leon and Gadsden counties in the coming days.

Their assessment of damage zones and patterns will determine what kind of wind action occurred, and the strength rating if it’s determined to have been caused by a tornado.

Leon County officials stated Friday that weather conditions changed quickly as the storms descended upon the capital county, noting the possibility of three different points of wind rotation in their consultation with the local National Weather Service staff.

A closer look at how the situation evolved based on radar data shows the first spin-up along the stretch of storms developing south of Chattahoochee at 6:15, which prompted the first tornado warning within the Big Bend. The entire line was running into a stronger low-level southwesterly flow, which enhanced the storm line’s ability to create more of these rotating points as it moved east-southeast. This point of the storm raced quickly south of Quincy, where radar data noted a “tornado debris signature” around 6:40 indicating that solid matter was being lifted from the ground by the winds of this storm.

A second spin-up zone was spotted near the western tip of Lake Talquin at 6:45, triggering a second tornado warning covering southwestern Leon County. While the spot near Quincy intensified near Midway, a third point of strong rotation was identified about four miles south of it by 6:48, crossing Lake Talquin and zipping east along Blountstown Highway. The characteristics of the Quincy/Midway and Lake Talquin cells prompted an upgrade of the warnings to “confirmed tornado” status based on radar identification methods.

Doppler Radar estimated wind gusts with these areas between 75 and 95 mph as they entered western Leon County, while the southernmost spin-up was paralleling Bloxham Cutoff with gusts upwards to 70 mph.

Our exclusive Titan Radar Shear Tracker highlighted these three distinct spots along the broader line, showing Titan Radar’s analysis of the strength of the rotation within these zones. Those that crossed the Ochlockonee River racing into the west and south sides of Tallahassee were shown to have “extreme” amounts of shear, solidifying the belief of tornadic activity in these storms. Debris was still being shown by radar data, as well.

As these came closer to the radar site at Tallahassee International Airport, some data quality was lost, but the structure of these storms remained intact as they blew into the heart of the capital city. Various observations of wind gusts above 70 mph tend to lend much support to what Titan Radar was indicating in terms of their wind potential.

The last radar image before data went offline from the airport site at 7:04 showed a broader banding of gusty outflowing winds sweeping through the southeastern suburbs and neighborhoods of Tallahassee. All tornado warnings in Leon County ended at 7:30 when the storms traveled into Jefferson County and beyond.

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