Tornadoes, Hurricane Irma dominate weather headlines in 2017

Tornadoes, Hurricane Irma dominate weather headlines in 2017
(Source: WTOC)
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Tybee Island (Source: WTOC)
Tybee Island (Source: WTOC)

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season was a hyperactive, deadly, and extremely destructive season and for the second year in a row, the Coastal Empire and Lowcountry did not go unscathed.

However, in 2017 it was tornadoes, not Irma, that dominated our headlines.

Late January we had an unusual tornadic outbreak - 14 people were killed in Adel, GA and four confirmed minor tornadoes struck the Coastal Empire. One tornado touched down in a cemetery in the middle of a funeral in Screven County.

"It actually picked the car up off the ground it spied it and picked up another truck. I left out of there praying because I didn't know who was behind us."

The Zoar Community in Appling County took a hard hit as well.

"The house was picked up and blown into the pond."

Less than two weeks later, an EF-2 tornado cut a path from Bulloch County into Effingham County waking residents from their sleep.

"Your app! It went off and I sat up and told my wife there's a storm out there," storm victim Keith Egen said.

"It started shaking and it started to tumble like we were clothes in a washing machine," storm victim Timothy Ogle said.

Besides broken bones, all of them are okay for what they survived.

In early May, an EF-1 twister crossed I-516 and destroyed the Advance Auto Parts in Garden City and swirled around the Georgia Port Authority.

Later in May, another EF-1 tornado touched down on Wilmington Island.

"This street cannot take much more. it's know the hurricane was in October. that's months ago...and here we are again," Wilmington Island resident Beth Walker said.

But that tornado didn't just touch down on Wilmington, it strengthened and crossed through Fort Pulaski as an EF-2.  It was a month before the park opened.

"We had people coming from Cape Canaveral, Alleghany Portage in Pennsylvania. There were people putting in 16-plus hour days on recovery to get this place in good shape for reopening."

But another natural disaster, a third in less than a year would close the park again and impact us all in some way: Hurricane Irma.

"To me, it seems a little bit worse than Matthew, but not the winds," Tubby's on River Street General Manager Fred Plantadis said.

That sentiment kind of summed up the difference between our back to back hurricane years. Matthew's winds versus Irma's storm surge.

"I've never had water underneath my house. I live right behind this house. This is my mother's and it is just covered. It's 5-6 inches in my house," Cherish Amerson said.

"The flooding was scary. We get high tide but it came over the second step in the back yard over my knees," Betz Creek resident Jeanette Tarver said.

From island creeks to the Tivoli River in Bryan County, the waters raged like seas.

McIntosh and Glynn counties didn't have full power nor full capacity water services for nearly a week, even the exits were closed off I-95 and road blocks along Hwy 17.

Getting around in Beaufort was not an issue, if you had a boat or paddleboard. Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park took on a whole new meaning.

A sight everyone agreed they'd never seen before.

"So, this is the worst flooding that I've seen in Beaufort."

"The air conditioner flooded, all the yard furniture went down the street, but the house stayed dry."

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