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Saturday's storm damage

NWS says damage caused by straight-line winds.
Posted at 9:41 PM, Jan 12, 2020

Saturday's severe thunderstorms produced numerous wind damage reports around central and eastern Kentucky. Everything from uprooted trees to downed power lines to roof damage to dump truck beds in the middle of the road to flipped mobile homes. The National Weather Service in Louisville surveyed three areas today, and determined the damage in each location was caused by straight-line winds.

The weather service's first stops were in northern Madison and southern Clark counties. In the Boonesbourgh area there were several barns that were flattened during the severe storm. The survey team determined that it was straight-line winds with maximum speeds of 60-70 mph that lead the damage.

A section of the White Hall mansion's roof was peeled back by the wind. Numerous softwood trees were uprooted or snapped on the property. Many were cedar trees. All of the damage was in a straight line from southwest to northeast. Therefore it was determine that straight-line winds of 65-70 mph caused the damage.

The final survey location of the day was on Charlie Norris Road between Richmond and Waco. During the severe thunderstorm a mobile home was overturned and is said to have rolled a number of times. Adjacent to the mobile home, several large barns, a greenhouse, and the top of a silo experienced major structural damage. All of the barn and silo damage moved from southwest to the north-northeast for up to half a time. The damage was consistent with straight-line winds of 80 mph. That's the equivalent of an EF-0 tornado or Category 1 hurricane.

Yesterday's damage goes to show you that straight-line winds can do just as much damage as a tornado, if not more. John Gordon, the Meteorologist in Charge at the Louisville National Weather Service, puts it best, "straight-line winds (can) kill people." Fortunately there were only minor images associated with yesterday's damage. You need to heed severe thunderstorm warnings just like you would if a tornado warning were issued.

What do meteorologists look for when determining if damage was caused by straight-line winds or a tornado? The survey team will look for any patterns in the damage. Were the tree flattened in the same direction or does it vary? Are there swirling patterns in the grass? Where did the pieces of roof land?

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If the damage pattern is following the same direction, as if everything was flattened, then the damage was a result of a downburst or straight-line wind.

Tornadic damage may look like pick-up sticks that have been dropped and scattered every which way. The damage pattern spirals along the path of the tornado.