PEMBROKE, Ga. — Bryan County, Georgia's EF-4 tornado from April 5 will go down as the strongest tornado in the United States for 2022. The National Weather Service office in Charleston, SC estimated wind speeds of 185 mph with the coastal Georgia tornado.
The tornado's path ran for 14.5 miles, beginning just west of the Bryan County Courthouse in Pembroke and traveling just beyond Interstate 16. At the tornado's widest, it measured a distance of 1,300 yards.
The storm damaged part of the roof on the Bryan County Courthouse, blew out some windows, and snapped numerous trees in the area.
According to local news reports, construction has not yet started on the courthouse but local officials expect repairs to be completed by the end of 2023.
Beyond the Pembroke area, the tornado moved over a wooded, marshy area, producing massive tree damage, and heavily damaging a residence on Stubbs Farm Road.
The tornado then continued east-northeast moving through Hendrix Park, the Park Place subdivision, and the Black Creek Golf Course where it reached its maximum EF-4 intensity and width of approximately three-quarters of a mile.
Four individual damage points in the Park Place subdivision prompted the EF-4, one of which was bolts holding a foundation being bent.
In addition to the structural damage, numerous trees in the area were snapped.
Along Olive Branch Road and Homestead Drive, several mobile homes were completely destroyed, causing one death and injuries in the area.
The tornado weakened as it crossed Interstate 16 at U.S. Highway 280 (exit 143), dissipating just east of Oracal Parkway Circle.
Three other EF-4 tornadoes occurred in the United States in 2022, one in Iowa and two that crossed from Texas into Oklahoma. The Winterset, IA tornado happened on March 5, causing 6 deaths. The two Texas/Oklahoma tornadoes happened on November 4 with no fatalities.
All three other EF-4 tornadoes had peak winds of 170 mph.
Tornado ratings are measured on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, which estimates a tornado's strength based on damage that has occurred.
According to the National Weather Service, when tornado-related damage is surveyed, it is compared to a list of Damage Indicators and Degrees of Damage which help estimate better the range of wind speeds the tornado likely produced.