BURKE COUNTY, Ga. (WJBF) – The National Weather Service in Columbia concluded on Thursday that the storm damages in Burke County on Wednesday were caused by straight line winds and downbursts.

NWS Columbia said via Twitter on Thursday afternoon: “One of our survey teams has determined the damage in Burke County was due to downburst winds as high as 90 MPH. Most of the damage was between Hwy 25 south of Hephzibah to the River Road area near the border with Richmond County.”

John Quagliariello, the warning coordination meteorologist with NWS Columbia explained the magnitude of this.

“It looks like all the winds were generally down in the same direction which would be a good indicator that there are straight line winds or what we call a downburst,” Quagliariello said. “Oftentimes, these downburst winds can produce winds just as strong as you would see in weak tornadoes, equivalent to an EF0 or EF1 tornado.”

It was unclear on Wednesday what type of storm came through the area south of Hephzibah on Highway 25 in Burke County, with many saying it resembled a tornado.

“At first, the light started blinking and out of the window I saw that the two front trees moving back-and-forth really heavy,” said Jerry Smith, who lives in Campbell Circle, one of the areas that sustained the most damage. “It got real dark, and almost you couldn’t see outside. The rain became really pounding and pouring. It was it was a little bit scary.”

A house on Old Waynesboro Road was severely damaged after a tree fell onto it, and powerlines and roofs also took a beating.

“I was looking at that tree because you couldn’t hardly see it because the rain was literally sideways,” said Tim Gradous, who lives in the home the tree fell on. “It wasn’t coming down, it was just blowing across. And I watched the tree go up, and then I heard it hit the house.”

Although what hit Burke County wasn’t a tornado, the National Weather Service wants people to realize the extremity of it.

“Folks should be aware that, just because it wasn’t a tornado, as you can see with the damage, an 80 mile an hour wind gust can be more widespread and more damaging than a weak tornado,” said Richard Okulski, the meteorologist-in-charge for NWS Columbia.

The meteorologists will be finishing up their research in the Northern part of Georgia on Friday.