Skip to content Skip to left sidebar Skip to right sidebar Skip to footer

Trees, power lines and property damaged as storms rip through Johnson County

Powerful tornadic-like thunderstorms have ripped through the area for the past two weeks downing trees and knocking out power all across Johnson County. Roby and Dottie Howard, who live on Dry Stone Branch Road, helplessly watched as last Monday evening’s storm uprooted an enormous 60 year-old oak tree in their front yard, leaving a massive hole and a lot of cleanup duty.
“It just hit all of a sudden,” said Howard. “My wife and I are thankful it fell horizontal to the house. I hated to lose those three trees, especially since they have stood for decades; however, no one was injured.”
Others on the same road also saw damage, including Mark and Dottie Phipps, who lost eight of the ten Bradford pears lining their long driveway. Some residents along this road, including Billy Taylor, noticed some “swirling” in the damaging winds leading him to believe a small twister might have touched down.
This Monday another powerful storm produced winds strong enough to topple several trees and buildings. “The complex of storms that blew through early this week was responsible for producing 50 to 55 MPH winds in widespread fashion across the county,” said Bill McMillan of Mountain City Weather Center. “Monday evening’s storm actually originated from a complex of storms blowing through central Indiana earlier that morning.  As the heating of the day combined with the outflow boundary from that storm complex, the storms intensified before blowing into the mountain region.”
Just before 7 p.m. the National Weather Service (NWS) Doppler radar indicated a line of severe thunderstorms capable of producing quarter size hail and damaging winds in excess of 60 mph. In addition to large hail & damaging winds, continuous cloud to ground lightning accompanied this storm. NWS warned residents to move indoors immediately and cautioned the public with the dangers of lightning. “Lightning is one of natures number one killers,” the warning said. “Remember, if you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be struck by lightning.
Lightning strikes more than 400 people in the United States each year, causing devastating and permanent disabilities for those who survive. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Weather Service plans to host national Lightning Safety Awareness Week June 20-26, and everyone is urged to heed this warning – when thunder roars go indoors!
The annual lightning safety campaign is helping to reduce the number of deaths caused by lightning each year. Lighting Safety Awareness Week, first launched in 2000 to educate people about the danger of lightning, has helped reduce annual lighting deaths from about 72 to 58.
“While we have seen a decrease in deaths, many people still wait too long to seek shelter,” said Donna Franklin, NOAA’s Lightning Safety Team Leader. “Lightning has already struck and killed eight people this year so we’re continuing our strong push to educate people not to go outdoors during a thunderstorm.”
“One of the most common mistakes people make during thunderstorms is huddling under a tree or other structure to stay dry. This can be a deadly mistake,” said John Jensenius, a lightning expert with the National Weather Service, “Lightning can strike from a storm that is as far away as ten miles, so if you hear thunder — you need to get inside a building or car immediately.”
To avoid being struck by lightning, NOAA’s National Weather Service recommends that you:
•Get into a fully enclosed building or hardtop vehicle at the first rumble of thunder;
•Stay indoors for 30 minutes after the last thunder clap;
•Monitor the weather forecast when you’re planning to be outdoors;
•Have a plan for getting to safety in case a thunderstorm moves in;
•Do not use a corded phone during a thunderstorm unless it’s an emergency; cell phones are safe to use;
•Keep away from plumbing, electrical equipment and wiring during a thunderstorm.