Deadly twister ranked at EF3

Terry Richards | The Valdosta Daily TimesDebris from a deadly tornado strike is scattered along Ga. 122 near Barney in Brooks County Sunday. The twister, which killed a Barney couple, was at EF2 strength (111-135 mph winds) when it touched down, according to the weather service.

VALDOSTA — The deadly tornado that tore through Berrien, Brooks and Cook counties Sunday had wind speeds above 136 miles per hour, according to the National Weather Service.

The twister killed two people in Brooks County, two in Berrien and seven in Cook. It touched down in north Brooks County near Barney at 3:29 a.m., said Kelly Godsey, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Tallahassee, Fla.

Early data from ground teams shows the tornado was rated EF2 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, he said.

The Enhanced Fujita Scale runs from EF0 (65-85 mph) to EF5 (more than 200 mph). EF2 wind speeds run from 111-135 mph. EF2 twisters can tear roofs off frame houses, destroy mobile homes and snap large trees, according to the website tornadofacts.com.

A couple near Barney was killed when their mobile home was thrown 100 yards and shredded by the tornado, officials said.

When the same tornado reached a mobile home park in Cook County, it had grown to EF3 strength, Godsey said. EF3 winds are 136-165 mph and can overturn trains, destroy roofs and walls and uproot most trees, according to tornadofacts.com.

Several mobile homes in the Cook trailer park were destroyed, killing seven. The tornado crossed into Berrien as an E3, where it killed a couple who were asleep when a tree crushed their home, Godsey said.

The twister dissipated at 3:58 a.m., Godsey said.

Another tornado touched down in Thomas County at 3:29 a.m., moving into north Brooks before dying out at 3:18 a.m., Godsey said. No fatalities have been reported with that twister.

 Gov. Nathan Deal plans to tour tornado strike sites Wednesday.

Terry Richards is senior reporter at The Valdosta Daily Times.

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