No warning was issued for Friday’s tornado

Published 8:00 am Tuesday, February 21, 2023

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The brief tornado that hit LaGrange on Friday morning did so with little to no warning. Radar indicated a storm passing through but residents got no sirens, no tornado warning or even a tornado watch.

The tornado was weak compared to the two Jan. 12 tornadoes that hit Troup County. According to the National Weather Service in Peachtree City, the tornado had an EF1 rating —and a low EF1 rating at that— with an estimated peak wind speed of 90 mph.

The tornado only lasted about seven minutes. It formed near the airport and ended near Lafayette Pkwy at the interstate.

NWS officials said the storm that caused the tornado was so small that it did not merit a tornado watch. Prior to the tornado being confirmed, officials were uncertain if there even was a tornado and thought it could have been straight-line winds.

“It was just a very skinny line moving through,” said NWS Senior Meteorologist Marissa Pazos.

Local officials said Friday morning that no tornadoes were seen on the radar for the storm.

“These little spin-ups just occur so fast,” Pazos said. “It was just an instant kind of spin-up that touches the ground and it moves. If your eyes aren’t on [the radar] at the exact right second, you can miss it.”

Pazos said small twisters like the one that hit LaGrange on Friday probably happen a lot more than they notice.

“This one happened to hit at the exact wrong location,” she said. “It’s never a good location, but we prefer not to be near people … “It was just so fast, up and down.”

Sometimes it’s straight-line winds that cause this type of damage that give you the idea that it’s a tornado when it isn’t, Pazos said.

“The National Weather Service is going back and reviewing the radar to see exactly what was on there, and they’re still investigating,” Troup EMA Director Zac Steele said. “We do know that we didn’t get a tornado watch or warning.”

“Obviously, it came and went so quickly. We weren’t sure exactly what kind of storm we were dealing with. So, once we started receiving the calls about trees down, we notified NWS immediately, and they sent a damage survey team to town,” he said.

Steele said that it’s very uncommon that a tornado hits with no tornado watch.

“Our goal is to pass along the warnings and watches as we received them from NWS,” Steele said. “We don’t issue those warnings or watches.”