Weather Blog | January 4th Severe Weather Recap

Breaking Down The Severe Weather Event From Around The CSRA
Storm Reports
Storm Reports(wrdw)
Published: Jan. 9, 2023 at 2:18 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - On the morning of January 4th, a cold front was moving into the western counties in the CSRA. Ahead of that front dew point values had risen into the mid and upper 60s providing the fuel needed for strong to severe storms. There would end up being 3 tornados touching down. The first was in Washinton County, just to the north of Sandersville, the next in Jefferson County, and the final one in Aiken County, just outside of Wagner. This blog will talk about all of the strong storms and show some images and videos from across the CSRA.

Washington County Tornado:

A look at radar around 8:45 am in Sandersville
A look at radar around 8:45 am in Sandersville(wrdw)

The first tornado of the day moved through the Sandersville area around 8:45 am. While no tornado warning was issued there was a severe thunderstorm warning that mentioned the potential for winds gusting to 60 mph and to expect damage to roofs, siding, and trees. The NWS office in Atlanta would end up conducting a survey the following day and determined that the tornado had winds of 95 mph classifying it as an EF1. The tornado started near Highway 88 and Deepstep Rd and would stay on the ground for 3.85 miles as it moved to the east.

Jefferson County Tornado:

The same line of storms that moved through Sandersville would continue to move east and maintain their strength in Jefferson County, spawning an additional tornado. Using our high-resolution radar we can spot the very weak tornadic signature on radar.

On the left is the standard radar showing very heavy rainfall within the Severe Thunderstorm...
On the left is the standard radar showing very heavy rainfall within the Severe Thunderstorm Warning. On the right is the same radar scan but showing velocity, notice the highlighted area showing the faint tornadic signature.(wrdw)

Along with the weak sign of rotation, there was very heavy rainfall, gusty winds, and lightning. The storm was placed under a Severe Thunderstorm Warning from the National Weather Service in Atlanta with language suggesting a tornado could be possible. News 12′s Nick Viland went out to Jefferson County to asses the damage here’s a look back at what he found.

A confirmed EF-1 tornado touched down near Sandersville Wednesday. We took a look at the damage left behind in Jefferson County.

Originally thought to be just straight-line wind damage, the weather service would later confirm that an EF-0 tornado, with peak winds at 80 mph, would be on the ground for 5.2 miles just north of Louisville.

The highlighted areas show the Tornado's path per the NWS Survey Crew.
The highlighted areas show the Tornado's path per the NWS Survey Crew.(NWS - Atlanta)

Burke County Downburst:

As the storms continued into Burke County we noticed a familiar feature with a line of thunderstorms, a bow echo. This type of feature is formed when strong winds actually push the rainfall out in front of the thunderstorm. In the high-resolution radar image loop below you can see the bow or backward “C” shape of the thunderstorm form just as it moves over Route 25, just north of Waynesboro. The left side of the image shows the intense rainfall but the right side shows the strength of the winds. We can see the strongest of those winds in the light blue colors between Greens Cut and McBean, radar estimated the winds around 60-70 mph.

Radar loop over Burke County showing the very intense winds of the downburst between McBean and...
Radar loop over Burke County showing the very intense winds of the downburst between McBean and Greens Cut. Where we see bursts of light and dark blue on the right side of the image is most likely where the down burst occurred.(wrdw)

The National Weather Service in Columbia would later confirm winds closer to 90 mph. As the NWS conducted its damage survey they also concluded that while this storm was associated with a bow echo there was a downburst event that caused winds to increase higher than what the radar saw. The downburst would lead to the most destructive damage across the region, even more destructive than the observed tornado in Columbia, SC.

With those high winds Damage was recorded in Burke and Richmond County. Check out some of those videos below as well as the full interview with the National Weather Service.

Full interview with the National Weather Service - Columbia while they were out conducting their survey of the storm damage.

Eastern CSRA

As the storms crossed the Savannah River more damage occurred in Aiken and Barnwell counties. A Tornado warning was issued in eastern portions of Aiken County and an EF-0 with winds of 85 mph moved just outside Wagner for about 3.5 miles. No injuries were reported with this tornado. It would later respawn in Woodford, SC in Lexington and Orangeburg Counties as a stronger EF-1 with winds of 90 mph.

Wagner Tornado
Wagner Tornado(wrdw)