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Most severe weather skirts neighboring counties

POSTED: March 26, 2008 5:01 a.m.

Like Hall County, much of Northeast Georgia seemed to be spared the severity of the storms that killed at least two people in Northwest Georgia.

The extent of damage in Jackson, Forsyth and Dawson counties seemed to be limited to that caused by high winds and hail, despite unconfirmed reports of tornadoes. There were no reports of serious injuries in any of the counties.

Stephen Konarik, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said Forsyth County law enforcement officials reported spotting a tornado crossing Ga. 400 about three miles south of Cumming. He said the weather service would be performing field surveys today to determine if damage was caused by tornadoes or straight-line winds.

Konarik said the weather service also had received reports of hail in Forsyth and Dawson counties — some as big as golf-ball sized — but had no reports of severe weather from Jackson County.
Rain totals in the three counties would not be available until today, Konarik said.

Officials in Jackson County said there were unconfirmed reports of tornadoes there, where residents were pummeled with two-inch hail, damaging winds, and downed trees and power lines.

“People have reported seeing funnel cloud touchdowns, but we haven’t really confirmed any touchdowns,” Steve Nichols, county emergency services director, said Saturday evening.

Jackson EMC reported some 400 outages in Jackson County and crews had restored power to most of those homes by late Saturday afternoon.

Most of the wind damage was near Commerce and Arcade. Fallen trees crushed cars, houses and businesses, including the Tanger II Outlet Center, Nichols said.

There were no major accidents as of 5 p.m. Nichols said agencies reported a few minor car accidents and medical calls related to the storm.

Hail ranging from the size of a pea to a half-dollar was reported all over the county. Braselton received a heavy dose of hail, but Assistant Police Chief Lou Solis said no major accidents were reported.

Hoschton Police Chief David Hill, who lives in Braselton, said his family spent most of the afternoon in the basement. As Hill drove to work, pea-sized hail hammered his windshield.

“That was the largest hail I’ve ever been hit with, and I really felt like I was going to have to replace a window in my vehicle,” Hill said, adding that the line of afternoon storms missed Hoschton.

In Forsyth County, a number of downed trees caused problems on roadways and for utility companies.

Trees toppled by the high winds blocked portions of Ga. 53 and Ga. 306 in North Forsyth on Saturday afternoon. Winds tossed several DOT construction barrels at a work site on Ga. 306 onto nearby property.

Crews from Sawnee EMC, which serves most of Forsyth, worked Saturday afternoon to restore a number of isolated power outages, most of which were caused by downed trees falling across lines. The utility reported some 550 homes without power in North Forsyth and Cherokee counties, most of which were restored within two hours.

Roads in both Forsyth and Dawson were littered in spots by pine needles and limbs which were scattered by the high winds.

Contributing to this report were Times Senior Content Editor Edie Rogers, reporter Harris Blackwood, clerk Bianca Bruno and The Paper Editor Nikki Young.



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