LAURENS COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – The National Weather Service confirmed the damage in an Upstate county Friday morning was caused by a tornado.
As the clouds cleared and the sun began to peek out Friday, a path of destruction came to light in Laurens County.
NWS confirmed tornado damage was visible from the northeast to Highway 72 in Joanna.
The preliminary maximum wind speed was estimated near 95 miles per hour rating the tornado an EF-1.
From down trees to structural damage, cleanup was underway across the Upstate.
The National Weather Service said the tornado damaged a car wash and fire station in Joanna.
What was formerly known as the Old Joanna car was was reduced to ruble from the storm. The owner’s family told 7NEWS it was permanently closed during the storm. Yet still, it was an unexpected and upsetting loss for their family and the community.
A few miles east in Clinton, Renno Road was shut down for a majority of the day as crews with the SCDOT cleared away trees and debris from the roadway.
The tornado also brought down numerous trees near Hawkins Circle and around Highway 72.
As more damage was discovered throughout the day Friday, one question still remained.
“What we are looking for is to determine if there was a tornado or straight line winds,” said Steve Wilkinson, National Weather Service.
Wilkinson and a team of experts with the National Weather Service surveyed the area. Not only did they study the damage from the storm, but also where much the debris landed.
“We actually look for the pattern the damage lays out in as falls. In other words if a roof comes off and falls, how does it land? That gives us some clues as to what the winds are doing,” said Wilkinson.
It was a storm that brought heavy rain and powerful winds to the Upstate.
“Whether it’s a straight line or a tornado, it’s probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 70 mph winds, something like that,” said Wilkinson.
He said it’s important to beware of similar systems in the future.
“We definitely encourage people to take shelter in a sturdy building and not a car. In a case, this shows you what can happen. Obviously it depends on where the storm hits. But taking shelter in a solid building, what you can find, is what we recommend and not a vehicle if you think a tornado is coming,” said Wilkinson.
The tornado formed during severe weather that ripped through Western North Carolina and the Upstate of South Carolina Thursday afternoon. The system produced deadly pop-up tornadoes like the one in Salem, Alabama.
The NWS also confirmed an EF0 tornado briefly touched down in Gaston County.