NWS: EF-1 tornado touched down in Spartanburg; storm damage clean-up underway in the Upstate


Take a look back at our full weather coverage from Thursday as storms were hitting our area here.

(WSPA) – National Weather Service officials confirmed Friday that an EF-1 tornado did touch down in Spartanburg Thursday morning.

“It’s pretty clear that this was a tornado,” Steve Wilkinson with the NWS said.

Wilkinson said the track from west of Interstate 26 across the mall area to the Crown Pointe Apartment complex indicated that it was a tornado path.

“We look for focused, intense damage and that’s what we have here at this apartment complex,” Wilkinson said.

According to the NWS’ public information statement, the EF-1 tornado started in Wellford at around 10:20 a.m. and ended in Cedar Springs in Spartanburg County.

The estimated maximim wind speed reached 110 mph, the maximum path width was 100 yards and 10.26 miles in path length.

The following is a summary of the Thursday’s storm released from the NWS:

“Damage began in the Clevedale area, just south of Highway 29, west of Spartnburg. Mostly tree damage was reported as the tornado moved east toward the intersection of Highway 29 and I-26, though one tree fell on a house. In the Westgate Mall and Dorman Center areas near that intersection, structural damage occurred to a billboard and signs at businesses. Roof damage occurred to homes and apartments east of Westgate Mall, and power poles were broken in addition to more snapped trees. The tornado strengthened as it moved east of the mall area, along West Main Street toward downtown. Businesses on West Main lost roof panels, and at least one small outbuilding was destroyed, suggesting the peak winds of 100 to 110 mph occurred there. Tree damage was observed in downtown Spartanburg and in the Converse Heights neighborhood east of downtown. Though the tornado was not as intense by that time, trees continued to be uprooted along the path of the tornado until it dissipated near Zion Hill Road on the eastern outskirts of the city.”

– The National Weather Service

The following the full news release was released earlier from the National Weather Service:

“National Weather Service meteorologists have surveyed the damage on the west side of Spartanburg, SC. They have found that this damage was caused by a tornado. Complete track information and EF scale rating will be released after the survey is completed by this evening.”

Our reporters are out and about today surveying damage throughout our area.

WSPA’s Henry Coburn followed teams from the National Weather Service’s survey teams as they investigated damage reports.

The survey team assigned to Spartanburg followed the track the tornado had taken — it started near I-26 before moving east by WestGate Mall and then through neighborhoods.

Misty Scott, a resident in one of the impacted neighborhoods said her home was left unscathed.

“I didn’t lose a single shingle,” she said.

However, her yard was destroyed.

“I did lose approximately 80 trees,” she continued.

Our reporter Scottie Kay was in Spartanburg Friday morning at Living Waters Christian Ministries on West Main in Spartanburg, where they had extensive storm damage, including part of the roof that came off of the building.

“If, for some reason, it’s not a tornado, I’d just hate to be in one that is,” Pastor Jesse Canty said.

Jesse Canty was still in shock after a tornado ripped through Spartanburg on Thursday, leaving a path of destruction he told 7 News he’s never seen before.

“I was waiting to hear a death toll or something, and I haven’t heard anything about that,” he said. “That just told me right there that, even through chaos, God can still move and cover you and protect you.”

The storm made its way through the Westside of Spartanburg, taking the roof of Canty’s church with it.

“If this had happened on a day that we had service, it could’ve been upwards of 50 to 75 people,” he said.

On Friday, Canty went back to his sanctuary to clean up the mess and, when he saw the altar inside had not been touched by the storm, he believed it was a sign.

“We get back to the altar, we trust Him, and put everything in the hands of God,” he said. “When it’s too big for our hands, it’s not too big for His.”

Others stepped in to help pick up the pieces that were left.

“Other pastors have been reaching out, soliciting donations, sending donations,” Canty said. “Compared to life, all of these things can be replaced.”

And even though the future of his place of worship is uncertain, Canty told 7 News he and his congregation will continue to praise God.

“We don’t know what move we’re going to make–whether this is going to be rebuilt or whether we’re going to have move to another location, but we believe that we are the church. This is a building we may use, but we’re truly the church and we can have church right here. So, we’ll be fine,” he said.

Pastor Canty told 7 News his church will still have service this coming Sunday. He said he’d let us know when they decide on a location and we’ll be sure to pass that information along to you.

If you’d like to help the church, click here.

Spartanburg Police Department officials pushed out this video on their Facebook page Friday showing photos of the storm and damage around the city:

Our reporter Asia Wilson spoke with Pickens County Emergency Management Director Pierce Womack who said they have five teams out today assessing the area.

Womack said the Saluda River is at 15.7 feet currently, and said it is usually 9.4 feet.

Flooding was also reported inside Gilliland Baptist Church, located in downtown Pickens.

Womack said 64 roads were closed Thursday and currently 17 are still closed to traffic. Fifteen of those roads are in the county and two are state highways.

Two people were also reportedly trapped inside the OWT manufacturing plant and had to be rescued since the entire parking lot flooded. No injuries were reported.

According to Womack, it will take weeks for the county to recover from the storms.

Here are photos our crew took from the Pickens Flea Market Friday morning:

Several power outages have been reported throughout the Upstate.

Check out Duke Energy’s outage map here.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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