NWS: Storm damage in Conway caused by microburst, not tornado

CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - A survey team from the US National Weather Service Wilmington NC determined that the damage done by the severe storm near Conway Monday evening was not from a tornado but a downburst that produced 75-mile-per-hour winds.

Serious winds brought more than rain to the Juniper Bay neighborhood; Horry County Fire Rescue responded to 15 calls in 15 minutes.

Six minor injuries were reported during the storm. Injuries were treated at local hospitals and patients were later released.

The damage ranged from fallen trees in the road to trees on top of houses. One family's roof was blown off.

During a live chat with the region's meteorologists Tuesday morning, NWS officials stated that the damage in Conway was caused by a microburst, or a "pattern of intense winds that descends from rain clouds, hits the ground, and fans out horizontally. Microbursts are short-lived, usually lasting from about 5 to 15 minutes, and they are relatively compact, usually affecting an area of 1 to 3 km (about 0.5 to 2 miles) in diameter. They are often but not always associated with thunderstorms or strong rains."

"Within seconds it's gone - its gone," Heather Marcum said. Marcum and her family were not home at the time of the storm.

"And as you can see the roof is behind me - how do you come home and look at that?" she said.

Luckily Marcum's family was not in the home at the time, but other families were not so lucky.

Another damaged home was on Ole Larry Circle. A pine tree fell on top of the house, taking out the entire roof. One woman was inside.

"She just ran away. She tried to get out but it was raining so hard she came back in .. she didn't know what to do," translated family friend Cesar Vera.

Once inside the home you can see just how close of a call this was for the woman cooking inside.  She was cutting watermelon, stepped in the other room, and before she knew, there was a tree was in the middle of her home.

Horry County Fire Rescue said Monday was the busiest day for them so far this summer, and they had to prioritize calls.

"So we actually establish a threat level. If a tree is on a house, we obviously send people immediately to that," explained Assistant Chief Justin Gibbins. "We send an ambulance as well to make sure there's no injuries. Then we prioritize backwards away from injuries - we deal with structures, then we start dealing with power lines."

Fortunately there were no severe injuries. Gibbons said Conway Fire sent two children to the hospital just for precautionary reasons, but despite everyone being okay, this storm left people homeless.

"They're going to kill the light… they wont be able to live in the house and they don't have anyplace to stay tonight," Vera said.

Assistant Chief Gibbons wants everyone to know more people are injured after a storm like this while they are cleaning up. He says if you see any live power lines near your home that have not been taken care of, you need to call 911 right away.

Firefighters did give families contact numbers for Red Cross.

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