KINGS BAY, Ga. – The tornado that barreled through Southeast Georgia over the weekend was the strongest to hit the Jacksonville area in recent memory.
According to the National Weather Service, the EF-3 tornado was packing 144-mph winds when it touched down Sunday at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay.
Meteorologists said the tornado was 900 yards wide and was on the ground for 7.5 miles.
Damage consistent with that of an EF-3 tornado was found at the base, and the tornado’s strength was confirmed by a 144-mph maximum wind gust measurement from a docked Coast Guard vessel.
Four people received minor injuries as the tornado came through about 3 p.m. Sunday.
“There were four injured personnel that were transported to local hospitals,” said Capt. Chester Parks, of SERVICE, who added the victims were treated for cuts and leg injuries.
The tornado came through as part of severe storms that crossed southeast Georgia around 3 p.m., damaging the base, among other things.
“The damage from afternoon storms included the southernmost pier, known as Site 6, at least one pole and vehicles on base,” Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay public information officer Scott Bassett said.
Bassett said there were no reports of damage to any submarines.
The tornado’s path continued east across Cumberland Sound and caused damage around Old Horse Road and Parallel Trail south of Stafford Beach Road, according to a spokeswoman for the Cumberland Island National Seashore.
“Trees and other natural resources will recover,” said Superintendent Gary Ingram. “We are very thankful there were no injuries from this dangerous weather event. We ask for your patience at this time as we work to clear the affected areas from debris.”
Several dirt roads, including Kirkland, Swamp and West roads, were washed out.
There are no reports of downed trees or power lines.
by Ashley Harding and Destiny McKeiver (2018, Dec 2 / Updated 2018, Dec 6) News4Jax