Saturday, July 24, 2021
Saturday, July 24, 2021

Tornado rips through Georgia RV park. RVs destroyed, 13 people treated for injuries

There aren’t too many things more frightening in an RV than severe weather. One of the biggest problems is that there typically isn’t much warning. While you often have plenty of time to evacuate for hurricanes, tornadoes are another story entirely. At 5:50 p.m. on Wednesday, July 7, 2021, a tornado ripped through an RV park in Southeast Georgia and the devastation was as bad as you might expect. 

Tornado strikes at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay

According to the National Weather Service, the tornado had sustained winds of almost 130 mph. Several RVs were flipped on their sides and upside down at the popular RV park located on Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay. One RV and a truck were thrown approximately 200 feet into a lake. While the property damage was extensive, fortunately injuries were not life-threatening, according to a base spokesperson. The base commander thanked first responders for their quick actions. They transported nine people to the hospital and treated four others on site.  

Tornado unpredictability demands vigilance

Tornadoes are some of the most difficult weather events to prepare for since they are so unpredictable. The United States averages more than 1,000 tornadoes each year. Even though they can be unpredictable, there are some known causes. For example, hurricanes and tropical storms offer all the necessary weather elements to spawn tornadoes. They carry small, spinning supercells inside their outer bands that can form twisters. 

This is why it is especially important to be aware of local weather. Understanding the difference between a watch and a warning is crucial.Tornado Watch means that conditions are favorable for the formation of tornadoes in thunderstorms. This is the time to identify where you will seek shelter. A Tornado Warning means that a tornado has been either spotted by a human observer or indicated by Doppler radar. Once a tornado warning is issued, you should take cover immediately. The county where this campground was located was under a tornado warning for a mere 5 minutes before the tornado hit. 

Tornado safety measures for RVers

If you are in an RV park or campground when conditions are right for a tornado be sure to:

  • Don’t let your guard down. Pay close attention to local weather forecasts. Monitoring the National Weather Service Forecast website with a weather radio (we recommend this one) is ideal and cell phones may fail. 
  • Know your exact location. When traveling we may not always know the county we’re located in. Be sure to ask the campground upon check-in so that if the National Weather Service does issue a warning, you’ll know if it affects you.
  • Identify the best shelter. During a tornado a storm shelter or basement is ideal. If this is not an option, at least find something sturdier than an RV such as the bath house or laundry facility and stay away from windows. Here’s a guide to RV parks with storm shelters – keep this handy!
  • Be prepared to evacuate quickly. Have your pets and a “go bag” ready. Don’t waste precious time trying to get things together if the moment arrives. 

How you can help 

Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society Kings Bay, GA, is a non-profit that is assisting our Retired and Active Duty Service Members affected by this storm. If you would like to make a monetary donation, please visit the NMCRS site and specify it is for Kings Bay RV families.

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Dr. Mike
13 days ago

Julie,

One of the first things my wife and I do when arriving in a new area is to find our county. How? Google Maps of course! We discovered this great tool by Randy Majors where you can zoom in on your location and reveal the county name.

https://www.randymajors.org/countygmap?rmcomredir

This way, we know what to listen for on the NWS radio!

RnARiden
13 days ago

Is it because folks live at these parks full time that they don’t leave when this type of weather is possible or is there just not adequate time in the warnings? I feel like if I see this is possible, I would be heading to where it is NOT.

MrDisaster
13 days ago
Reply to  RnARiden

This park is on a Naval Base. There are no “homesteaders”. The command does allow up to a 6 month stay. Tornado warnings are often only a few minutes before the event. A tornado watch will cover a large area. The warning will refine it, but tornados are erratic in behavior and nearly impossible to predict the route with any accuracy. If you are really fortunate you might have 5 minutes warning to take cover. A hurricane on the other hand it a huge storm and can be tracked for days. Often you have 4-5 days warning which is ample time to move. Tornados are often “no notice” events (kinda like earthquakes).

Ramey
13 days ago
Reply to  RnARiden

I agree with you, RnARiden. Tropical storms and hurricanes almost always spin up tornadoes, and usually in the northeastern quadrant of the storm. This warning is repeated over and over in weather forecasts in advance of these storms, so people should be fully aware of the risks. If I had an RV in the path of a storm, I would take it west of the track and then return once it passes. But people in general seem resistant to evacuation. That said, the SE does have many RV parks where people either live full-time, or they have rented a year-round RV lot, so people may or may not be around to move their rigs.

Dan
13 days ago

I’ve lived in Tornado Alley my whole life. A “take cover” plan is a way of life around here. We have a bunch of essential items ready to take to the basement if needed. Before we had a basement we were ready to hide under mattresses in the hallway. And if you have to take cover, don’t forget your pets.

Dr. Michael
13 days ago

This was at Crooked River State Park in Kingsland, GA and I live just a few miles north.

I was on staff at the hospital and we were in the middle of hurricane Elsa. No one knew about the tornado as it happened so fast and dissipated just as quickly.
The really interesting thing about tornados is the absolute pinpoint accuracy. Take a close look at the video. You will see an RV in the water, another damaged, and another untouched all within about 50 feet. From what I heard, the injuries were not severe, but the folks were really shaken from the ordeal.
For those who do not know: Hurricane season is June 1st – November 1st.

Mike
13 days ago
Reply to  Dr. Michael

Thought it was at the RV park on the Naval base. Not at Crooked River.

Jeff Craig
13 days ago
Reply to  Mike

Looking at Google Maps, there is not a body of water within a few hundred feet of the RV spots at Crooked River, but the spaces at Eagle Hammock (the Kings Bay Famcamp) are right on the lake. Also, comparing the space layout with the video and photos, it could NOT be at the State Park.

That said, the Doctor is bang on about the damage. I grew up in Tulsa, and lived through several tornadoes tearing through my neighborhood in the early 70’s. It would be weird to ride my bike through the aftermath, seeing one house without a roof, three houses around it with no damage, then two houses totally destroyed and the house across the street with one end of the two-story structure peeled open like an exploding cigar in a Looney Tunes cartoon – Yet the rest of their neighbors are only missing a few shingles.

Linda H
14 days ago

Thank you for such an important article. Being from the West Coast, we would have no idea what to do. And that weather radio for under $30 is a great investment for us to have.

Jeff Craig
13 days ago
Reply to  Linda H

Make sure you get one that has an ‘ALERT’ feature. Mine came in handy a few weeks ago when a wildfire started about 20 miles from the State Park I was staying in. The winds blew it the opposite way, but it’s nice to have.

Bob p
15 days ago

This is why when I hear someone complaining about being deathly afraid of a hurricane I remind them a tornado is worse. In this time era you get a weeks notice about a hurricane, if you’re lucky you get 10-15 minutes notice about a tornado. Back in 1964 a hurricane came up the coast of VA, being a 21 year old Marine from the Midwest I wanted to know what a hurricane was. I was out driving my car in Oceania, VA wondering what all the hoopla was about as I had seen thunderstorms that bad just not as long. You couldn’t do that in a tornado. Over the years I have seen what hurricanes do and they are bad, but I’d rather go through 3-5 hurricanes as 1 tornado, another point hurricanes blow in one direction, tornadoes blow in all directions.

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