A strong thunderstorm tore through Hall County around lunchtime Tuesday, but authorities said it caused no major damage.
At 11:53 a.m., the National Weather Service radar detected a storm at Lake Lanier Islands, moving northeast at 30 mph with wind gusts of up to 45 mph. The system ripped through Flowery Branch and Gainesville before continuing on toward Murrayville and Clermont.
At around 12:30 p.m., winds blew so strongly around the area of Thompson Bridge Road and Mount Vernon Road that some people reported a possible tornado.
Residents of Mount Vernon Pointe subdivision, which is located off Mount Vernon Road off Thompson Bridge Road, said they heard high winds pick up amid what had been a steady rainfall all day.
As of 1 p.m. Tuesday, Gainesville had received 5.1 inches of rain at Lee Gilmer Memorial Airport since Saturday, when measurable amounts of rain associated with the storm were first received in the area, according to the National Weather Service.
One of the residents, Lindsey McCamy, said she was taking a nap when the storm happened.
“I heard the wind and thought the windows were going to be sucked in,” McCamy said.
Another resident, Ed Wayne, said the lights flickered in his house and came back on and three or four minutes later they went out again.
Residents left their houses after the storm, inspecting their property and checking on their neighbors.
The worst of the damage seemed to be on Alexandria Drive in the subdivision.
The storm also caused some damage at Gospel Assembly church and to houses in Lanier Woods North subdivision, both off Mount Vernon Road. Homes that were particularly affected in the neighborhood were on Corinth Drive near Andrew Street.
The Corinth Drive home of Robert and Jennifer Miller sustained heavy damage from the storm. A very large tree was uprooted in the Millers’ back yard, sending limbs through the roof of their home. The bedroom of their 11-year-old daughter, Margaret, was damaged by limbs, with one coming within inches of her bed.
No one was at home at the time of the storm; the family was alerted to the damage by neighbors.
Fire and police officials are inspecting the North Hall area for damage, but as of 1 p.m. Hall County Fire Marshal Scott Cagle said he was seeing mostly “a bunch of trees in the road.”
Hall County Fire Chief David Kimbrell said that the National Weather Service is trying to determine what kind of storm hit the area. But the service could initially confirm only straight-line winds. Kimbrell, who is driving around the area to assess damage, said it didn’t appear that a tornado had struck.
“Nothing is twisted like a tornado. It looks like straight-line winds,” Kimbrell said.
There were also reports of several houses damaged by falling trees, as well as a number of power lines knocked down, causing outages in the area. Jeff Wilson, spokesman for Georgia Power, said workers were repairing a downed line that cut electricity to about 150 customers.
Will Schofield, superintendent of the Hall County school system, sent a memo to school personnel citing the North Hall storm.
Mount Vernon Elementary, North Hall Middle and North Hall High schools “immediately activated their severe weather procedures and moved students to the appropriate areas of their campuses,” he said.
“We continue to monitor weather closely and North Hall High and North Hall Middle have canceled outdoor activities for the remainder of the day,” Schofield said. “Many teams will be practicing indoors.”
The midday cloudburst was part of the remnants of Tropical Storm Fay, which has been dropping heavy rain over Northeast Georgia for the past two days.
The National Weather Service also has issued a flash flood warning for White and Lumpkin counties.
Between 6:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., some 2 to 3 inches of rain had fallen in East Lumpkin and White counties. Another 1 to 2 inches is possible later today.
This story will be updated as developments warrant.