A line of severe thunderstorms with heavy rain, high winds, lightning and hail trekked through south Georgia Tuesday afternoon, felling power lines and causing power outages and minor damages to signs and trees.
Just before 4:30 p.m., the storm struck in downtown Waycross bringing gusty winds and quarter-sized hail. Residents in areas of Waycross reported hail on decks, porches, cars and driveways.
Hail, heavy rains and strong winds were also reported in Brantley — especially around Schlatterville and Hoboken — and Pierce counties, as well as Charlton and Clinch, but no damage has been reported.
Pierce County Sheriff Ramsey Bennett said the county received “… rain and some minor winds but no structural damage has been reported and nobody was hurt.”
Waycross Fire Chief David Eddins said although the situation “got bad” quickly in town, “we definitely dodged a bullet because all of the ingredients were in place for a bad storm.”
The city emergency crews responded to Oakwood Avenue, between Knight Avenue and Central Avenue, where there were downed power lines, one on a vehicle and one on a house, said Eddins.
“It appears there was at that time a surge of power which blew outlets and the panel box in the house and went into the water system and blew a water main,” said Eddins.
Power was out in some places, he said, affecting traffic lights, homes and businesses near Memorial Stadium. On Wadley Street, Eddins said a bunch of trees were down and some damage was reported to a house at 1403 Wadley St.
“This definitely was not a tornado, but it had a line that carried throughout,” said Eddins. “We had a downburst and strong winds and hail all over the place. This is the worst weather I have seen in this area since I moved to Waycross. And they are predicting more of the same today.”
The best thing, Eddins said, was that no injuries were reported.
“We had to wait for Georgia Power to arrive on Oakwood Avenue to cut the power, and you know how busy Georgia Power must have been,” the chief said. “We had a lot of folks from different departments in the city turn out to help get trees out of the way. Public works, the police, code enforcement, they all came out and helped cover the calls we were getting, and helped clear up the roads. With what we had so quickly, so unexpected, everyone did well. Thankfully, it is not something we see a lot.”
It appears most of the damage was concentrated inside a small area in the city. Jonathan Daniell, Ware County Emergency Management Agency director, said there was very little if any damage in the county jurisdiction.
Ware County Sheriff Randy Royal said the Jamestown community and the area around the Ware County Sheriff’s Complex experienced a lot of strong lightning, heavy rain and some gusty winds but no damage has been reported from the storm.
“I understand that some places got a good bit of hail but we didn’t have any reports of damage or trees down,” said Royal.
Daniell said the storm came without any warning and “blew up right on top of us, but we didn’t have a lot of damage except in that one area. There have been no reports of roads closed.”
Daniell said the area received about 2 inches of rain in a short period of time and several streets inside the city were flooded but that no such reports were made in the county.