Friday, January 20, 2012

The Tornado Chronicles: Ellenboro, NC Area Tornadoes of January 11, 2012

The first notable tornado event of 2012 took place during the evening hours of January 11 in extreme western North Carolina, near the town of Ellenboro.

According to the official National Weather Service Survey, the first tornado touched down 2.5 miles Northwest of Ellenboro in Rutherford County at approximately 5:22 PM EST.  It was on the ground for approximately 2.3 miles, with a maximum path width of 200 yards.  The tornado was rated EF-2 intensity.  Ten people were injured by this tornado, with two of them reportedly having serious injuries.

The photo below shows the "Ellenboro tornado" as captured by resident Dustin Wiser:

The following photo montage depicts some of the damage in the Ellenboro area as captured by The Daily Courier:

A second tornado touched down 5 miles south/southwest of Icard in Burke County North Carolina at approximately 6:03 PM EST.  This tornado was on the ground for 3.6 miles with a damage path as wide as 300 yards.  The tornado was rated EF-2 intensity.  Five people were reportedly injured by this tornado.

The following video taken by a TV news helicopter shows extensive damage across the area, including several homes where the roof was removed completely:

In my opinion, this was a very high end EF-2 to low end EF-3 tornado as illustrated by the above video.  If we knew whether some of the damaged structures originally had 2 stories (where the top floor was fully or mostly removed), I would be even more confident in the EF-3 assessment.

Other still photos captured by the local American Red Cross chapter also illustrate extensive damage across the area:

Red Cross Photo showing a "missile" in a home near Icard, NC

Roof and most outer walls of home removed near Hildebran, NC 

A third tornado touched down about 4 miles southeast of Granite Falls in Caldwell County, North Carolina at approximately 6:18 PM EST.  The tornado path length was 0.2 miles with a maximum width of 100 yards.  The tornado was rated EF-0 intensity.

Since 1950, only 23 tornadoes have taken place during the month of January in North Carolina.  The last January tornado was on the 5th of the month back in 2007.  The strongest tornadoes to occur in North Carolina since 1950 were also rated F-2 intensity, in 1971 and 1975. Those two tornadoes took place on the 5th of the month (in Harnett County) and the 10th of the month (in Transylvania County), respectively.

The tornado history for Burke and Rutherford Counties, NC since 1950 is shown below, courtesy of the NCDC database:

This is the first post in "The Tornado Chronicles" series for 2012.  I will effort getting future posts up more rapidly after a given tornado event and update the post as more information becomes available.  This particular post will be updated with a tornado track map shortly.

Another post is forthcoming this weekend, concerning the weak tornado that took place in the Louisville, KY area earlier this week.

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Shamrock said...

Looking good, Sir....I love the changes. Thanks for posting about the North Carolina tornadoes. I've been waiting to hear your take on it. The site looks super, Rob.

Rob White said...


Thanks, I'm glad you like it!