Two tornadoes touch down in county

Published 12:01 pm Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A tree lies on the ground near Cambrian Ridge Golf Course at Sherling Lake Park in Greenville following sever weather on April 15, 2011. (Advocate Staff/Ashley Vansant)

Some localized damage was reported after weekend storms blew through county, but no fatalities were reported.

“We dodged a bullet,” said Harden. “The potential for a lot more structural damage was there.”

According to the National Weather Service, two tornadoes were confirmed. Forest Home saw an EF-0 tornado touch down around County Road 12 and 19, while a stronger, more powerful EF-2 traced County Road 44, eventually passing through Cambrian Ridge Golf Course and Sherling Lake Campground.

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Trouble first started brewing around 3 p.m., Harden said.

“I have never seen anything like it before,” Harden said. “You could see a massive cloud spinning and moving, pulling other clouds in as it moved.”

The first wave didn’t touch ground, but rather passed right over the county, eventually tracking north up Interstate 65, Harden said.

Around 6 p.m., however, the first damage reports started coming in from Forest Home.

“When we went out there to asses the situation, there were about 4 houses that were damaged, several barns got tore up and tin was ripped off a chicken house,” Harden said.

Minor power line damage was also reported, Harden said.

The worst, however, started when an EF-0 first touched down on County Road 44 near Shiloh Baptist Church. The NWS Damage Survey Viewer showed that this tornado tracked straight along Sherling Lake Road, eventually growing into an EF-2 with sustained winds of 115 miles per hour. The NWS described the damage as a “400 yard wide path of trees snapped” extending all the way to Sherling Lake Campground. The storm snapped numerous trees in half, uprooting some, and causing pavilions at Sherling Lake to collapse.

Emergency Management Director Bob Luman said the last storm moved through around 8:30 p.m.

Harden said that throughout the night, he was in constant contact with Luman, who relayed information from the NWS.

“The weather service was on it this time,” Harden said. “This is the one time we wished they had been wrong.”

Community members gathered together at Shiloh Church Saturday, clearing down trees and pushing them into burn piles, Harden said. The church itself received minor damage, the sheriff said, with some tin and siding being ripped off the structure and a small hole getting knocked in the wall.