The National Weather Service said there is no evidence that a tornado touched down in Carrabelle on Sunday.
When strong winds swept across his property downing limbs and trees on Sunday, Shawn Bunnell grabbed his 6-year old daughter and sheltered in a central bathroom. Jeff Fournier, a forecaster for the National Weather Service said Bunnell did the wise thing.
Bunnell said he did not see a twister but believed the pattern of damage in his Avenue J neighborhood indicated a small tornado had touched down.
The forecaster said his office didn’t receive any reports of tornadoes in Franklin County over the weekend and there was no evidence of cyclonic activity on radar. He said the National Weather Service issued a warning of possible strong winds and thunderstorms.
“What we did receive were reports of trees and limbs downed by strong straight-line gusts all across the warning area,” said Fournier.
While no gusts stronger than 40 mph were recorded, Fournier said small severe disturbances known as microbursts are difficult to record because they are short and often on a very small scale.
Bunnell said falling limbs damaged a child’s plastic playhouse, dented his truck, scratched his car and flipped a carport in his yard.
Fournier said his agency received an unusual number of reports of damage to light structures like carports on Sunday.
On Monday, as rain continued to pour down, Bunnell said a crew from the Franklin Correctional Institution removed fallen limbs from the public right of way beside his yard and cut up trees in the public right of way.
“In the summer you get microbursts you can’t predict,” Fournier said. “There are some days you can say they are more likely than normal.”
He said trees are more likely to fall when they are rooted in water-saturated soil.
Lightning reportedly damaged several television sets in the county and businesses in both Carrabelle and Apalachicola reported damage to computers, modems and credit card equipment. On Sunday, lights flickered in Eastpoint and on St. George Island, and parts of Apalachicola and Carrabelle were left without power for several hours. Cable service was cut for even longer in some areas.
In addition to strong winds, storms on both Sunday and Monday brought abundant lightning and pounding rain. On Sunday, about a half-inch of rain was collected in Rod Gasche’s rain gauge in Carrabelle. On Monday, Gasche’s gauge collected just over an inch-and-a-half. Based on radar observations, Fournier said Apalachicola received at least an inch of rain, and an area one mile west of Apalachicola received nearly 3.5 inches.
The record for June 22 in Apalachicola, 3.33 inches, was set in 1942. So far, in 2014, Apalachicola has received 30.44 inches of rain, 7.4 inches more than the normal rainfall of 23 inches based on records from 1981 to 2010.