Storms cause minor damage in Augusta area

A line of severe thunderstorms that moved through Georgia and South Carolina on Wednesday evening caused minor damage in the Augusta area, and was blamed for at least four deaths in the two states.


Tornado warnings were issued for Rich­mond and northern Burke counties in Georgia, and southern Aiken and Barnwell counties in South Carolina between 4:30 and 6:30 p.m.

Possible funnel clouds were reported in Jackson and on Windsor Spring Road in south Richmond County, but the National Weather Service in West Columbia, S.C., cannot verify those reports until more data is collected today, said meteorologist Dave Schuetrum.

A tornado was reported in Aiken County, forecasters told The Associated Press.

The weather service will send out meteorologists Thursday to determine if the storms were tornadoes and how strong they may have been.

The roofs of two homes and a barn on Ramsey Road near Jackson were damaged, according to Aiken County sheriff’s Capt. Troy Elwell.

In Richmond County, dispatch reported several car accidents during the storms, but none resulted in serious injuries. Columbia County Emergency Management Agency Director Pam Tuck­er said no damage was reported in her county.

At Augusta Regional Airport, a 58 mph wind gust was recorded at 5:05 p.m., Schue­trum said. There were no reports of hail.

Three recreational vehicles reportedly flipped over near Waynesboro, Ga., Schuetrum said. Downed power lines and a tree on a house were also reported.

More serious damage was reported in north Georgia, and one person was reported killed when a tree fell on an SUV. Capt. Tim House, of the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office, said the unidentified person was killed when a tree fell on the vehicle near the Fulton County line.

In west Georgia, Harris County school officials said the storm damaged schools and vehicles in parking lots as it passed through, but no children were injured. Damage also was reported to the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.

Harris County Sheriff Mike Jolley said two people who lived in a mobile home near the sheriff’s office were in­jured and transported to The Medical Center in Columbus.

“We don’t think it is serious,” Jolley said.

The National Weather Service said penny-size hail was reported in Woodstock, Ga., as the storms passed through Cherokee County. The storms downed several trees in the Marietta and Smyrna areas.

Georgia Power Co. reported that several hundred metro-Atlanta customers were without electricity, mostly in Smyrna and south Fulton County.

A likely tornado that was part of a powerful cold front that swept across the Southeast on Wednesday blew through a rural community near Rock Hill, S.C., killing at least three and injuring a handful more. Police were searching to see if there were any more victims.

The tornado struck around 6 p.m., destroying or heavily damaging up to seven homes about five miles southwest of Rock Hill, said York County sheriff’s Lt. Mike Baker.

At least one mobile home was blown several hundred feet across the street and into the woods, leaving behind only the concrete steps leading to the front door. Another home was buried under the branches of at least one pine tree and the side was ripped off a third home, according to television footage and still photos from the scene.

York County Sheriff Bruce Bryant asked South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley for state assistance.