Survey team checks out storm damage - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE:Survey team checks out storm damage

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The National Weather Service says the tornado that hit Fort Payne, AL Thursday was an EF-2.

A survey team from the Huntsville, Alabama National Weather Service office has been in Fort Payne almost all day Friday looking for clues in the storm damage to determine if it was in fact a tornado that came through the area the night before.

"What we're doing right now is really just trying to assess the rough starting point of the damage," says Meteorologist David Nadler.

This is step number one. Next Nadler and his partner Brian Carcione take pictures and make notes about the damage, looking for what they call "indicators".

"We can look at light poles. We can look at power lines, trees, anything that gives us some indication of what was damaged," says Nadler.

And there's been plenty to see.

"We've seen trailers that have flipped over," adds Nadler. "We've seen portions of metal buildings that have been damaged."

But when determining whether a tornado carved a path here, or only straight-line winds, or both, they have to look closer.

"The direction of these trees that are uprooted is facing toward the left, kind of leaning this way," Nadler points out in one residential area. "If you look over there, just from this distance, you see that tree was knocked down and uprooted and it's leaning to the right. So right here you have a convergent pattern of damage, the classic indication of a tornado."

Nadler goes on to say much of the damage is in a concentrated path, indicative of a tornado, as opposed to widespread like straight-line winds would cause.

Nadler further points out that damage has been done to only one side of several homes, the other side virtually unscathed. This also tells him a tornado was here.

"From there we're able to determine and assess the rating, or intensity of the winds based on the degree of damage," explains Nadler.

Shortly after this story aired the survey team confirmed the tornado touchdown and ranked it as an EF-2 with peak winds of 125 mph. The length of the tornado path was 0.8 mile and around 50 yards wide. It's estimated it stayed on the ground for just three minutes.

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