By Greg Bird
By Greg Bird
For a brief few minutes around 10:00 Thursday night some residents of Whitley City were surprised by a sudden and violent storm that spawned an EF1 tornado – downing several trees and damaging houses.
Fortunately, despite the lateness of the event and lack of advance warning, no injuries were reported, but there was significant damage to the area where the tornado spawned.
The National Weather Service out of Jackson confirmed a supercell thunderstorm spawned a twister after surveying the damage in the area Friday morning. According to the NWS data the tornado lasted two minutes and reached a peak wind speed of 100 mph.
The funnel first touched down on Abe Chitwood Road, downing trees and damaging at least one home. It traveled east, knocking over trees on Highway 1651 and causing damage to the Dixie Transport apartment building. The cell traveled over Lumber King, knocking over a power pole and damaging buildings. The twister hopped over U.S. 27, knocking over the First Financial sign and continuing on to Jenny’s Branch Road and Stephens Farm Road, where the greatest damage was concentrated.
McCreary County Emergency Management Director Stephen McKinney stated he has performed damage assessments on at least 17 residences affected by the storm, including three that were deemed “unlivable” by insurance carriers.
McCreary County EMS/911 Director Jimmy Barnett stated once damage calls started coming in to the 911 Dispatch Center, he called in additional staff members to help coordinate recovery efforts and assist first responders at the scenes. Additional EMS crews were also called in, but as there were no injuries the crews assisted other departments with recovery and clean-up.
Despite the damage, most residents were happy the tornado didn’t do much more devastation and cause any injuries. When the sun came up Friday morning they were in their yards beginning clean-up and rebuilding efforts.
One local resident bought lunch for her neighbors affected by the storm, with Milton’s Burger Hut setting up to distribute food and donating additional items as well.
Local law enforcement was dispatched to the area Friday to block traffic as hundreds of spectators were driving down the road to view the damage, disrupting the residents’ clean-up efforts.