Wilmington Island Tornado Rated EF-2

Tornado confirmed near southern Wilmington Island in Chatham County Georgia.

On Tuesday, May 23rd, at 5:53pm, a tornado touched down on the southern end of Wilmington Island, near the intersection of Wilmington Island Road and Biltmore Road.  At this point, the tornado was rated EF 1 in strength, with maximum winds of up to 100 to 110 mph.

The tornado then moved east along Biltmore Road, then turned more east-northeast along a portion of Walthour Road.  Across this entire area of southern Wilmington Island, the bulk of the damage was in the form of large snapped and uprooted trees.  The Chatham County Emergency Management Agency reported that just over 30 homes sustained damage, ranging from minor shingle loss, to moderate to major damage due to trees or large limbs hitting the homes.  At least one home surveyed along Walthour Road sustained direct structural damage from the tornado, with the roof to a sunroom being torn off.

The tornado then continued east-northeast across several miles of marsh, which extends from east of Walthour Road to U.S. Hwy 80 near Fort Pulaski, Georgia.

Radar evidence, surveyed damage, and eye witness video indicated that the tornado strengthened to a low end EF-2 as it approached Fort Pulaski.

The tornado moved over/near the visitor center of the Fort, where it caused the concrete walls and roof structure to shift and buckle.  A smaller building next to this building had similar damage. There were many hardwood trees snapped close to the base of their trunks all around the complex of the Fort, along with at least two mid-sized vehicles in the parking lot being pushed and rolled over.

The tornado then progressed across the parking lot, just north of the Fort itself, where it exited into the Atlantic Ocean as a strong tornado/waterspout at approximately 6:03pm.

There was a Coast Guard report of a capsized 48 foot fishing vessel about a mile north-northeast of Tybee Island, with three missing crew members.  As of May 25th, the search is ongoing.

EF 1:  wind speeds of 86 to 110 mph

EF 2:  wind speeds of 111 to 135 mph

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