Originally created 09/10/04

Area is spared tornado activity



AIKEN - Beech Islanders were not hit with a tornado this week, officials said, just an intense burst of wind and rain.

Steve Naglic, a warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service's office in West Columbia, said that although at least 22 tornadoes touched down in South Carolina, there were none in the Aiken-Augusta area.

Emergency officials who surveyed a mile of downed trees and debris off South Carolina Highway 125 in Beech Island confirmed the area was hit with a localized "microburst," a sudden and brief downpour of rain during which winds can reach 100 mph.

Microbursts are commonly mistaken for tornadoes, Mr. Naglic said.

"They can get real strong, and people will report hearing those sounds like a freight train," Mr. Naglic said.

But the pattern of downed trees tells the tale, he said.

Beech Island's uprooted trees were laid out in straight lines, in the same direction, typical of a microburst.

A tornado would fling trees in a convergence pattern, surrounding the nexus of the twister, he said.

Residents of the Green Valley RV Park off Highway 125 said the brunt of the storm swept through the area at about 8 p.m. Tuesday, scattering tree limbs and debris.

There were no injuries, but several cars in the park sustained damage.

Reach Stephen Gurr at (803) 648-1395, ext. 110, or stephen.gurr@augustachronicle.com.