Why It was a Twister!

Carter Tornado Confirmed

A series of wind storms ripped thru our region on Sunday packing marble,even golf ball sized hail, a gush of heavy rain and a sudden rush of air. Given our region was under a Tornado Watch (which means conditions were FAVORABLE BUT NOT ASSURED for tornadoes to form), it comes as no surprise that one of the high winds storms has been officially dubbed a twister.

Newschannel 3 cameras have been on the scene in Grahn, Carter County Kentucky twice since Sunday documenting the damage caused by the wind. I spent Sunday in the Goose Creek Hollow region assessing the damage to Judy’s Greenhouse and Nick and Ann Leadingham’s home. “I felt the house shake and moved the kids to the center of the house away from windows”, a weather savvy Ann Leadingham told me.

Today, Randy Yohe walked the tree-splintered hills and hollows with meteorologists John Sikora and Nick Webb of the National Weather Service in Charleston.

Randy and I shared notes on the damage in an afternoon brainstorming session. “I saw all sorts of trees felled roadside along state route 182”, Randy mentioned to me. “And the trees seemed to be knocked down in a contorted line as if a small whirlwind had carved out a distinct path”, I countered.

Indeed while the path was distinct and linear, the trees were torn and tossed in a more circular fashion; namely, one tree lying north-south while the next was northeast-southwest and the next east-west. That was a hint that a twister had passed thru.

Monday evening I chatted with Mr. Webb on what he saw. "Hardwood trees uprooted in different directions and some twisted when knocked down, others snapped like twigs", Webb told me. All were apparent pieces of evidence for the tornado case.

But how strong and what classification of tornado were we dealing with? Those questions were resolved when Sikora and Webb used a handbook of damage assessment to state the storm was a Force 1 (on a scale of 0 to 5) with winds of 100 miles per hour in spots.

In contrast, the weekend killer twisters in Oklahoma and Arkansas were rated F4 with winds as high as 200 miles per hour. Scores were injured and more than 20 lives were lost there. Contrast that with the Grahn funnel where no injuries were reported!

If you would like to learn more about tornadoes and their classification, check out the story on twister classification with Meteorologist Josh Fitzpatrick on First at Five on Wednesday with Bill and Carrie.

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