Determining a Tornado

Jan 18, 2012

Officials from the National Weather Service will visit Franklin County today to determine if Tuesday’s downed power lines and roof damage were caused by straight-line winds or a tornado. About seven storage units at Ratliff’s Self Storage Center on U.S. 421 were damaged after strong winds tore through the area around noon Tuesday, said manager Leslie Driskell.  One of those units belongs to KB Construction, and the owner, Kevin Breeck, was inside when the storm came through. He said he was just leaving when the winds picked up.

“I was about three-quarters of the way through shutting the door … and the whole roof ripped off right over my head,” Breeck said, as he carried wet supplies into his truck.

Breeck wasn’t immediately sure if he lost anything, since he’s still in the process of cleaning up.

“I have at least $20,000 in tools (in the unit),” Breeck said. “I don’t know what’s good and what’s not … hopefully it’s salvageable.”

Driskell said she was still waiting on the insurance company to determine the cost of property damage, but estimated that repairing the storage units will cost at least $20,000.

The roofs that blew off knocked down two electrical poles, four transformers and “a bunch of wires” before the roof came to rest on the side of the next-door building, Kentucky Correctional Industries, said Frankfort Plant Board Electrical

Superintendent Scott Hudson, who was on the scene with more than a dozen FPB employees working to upright the poles and restore power.

The roof of Franklin Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate’s barn was also a casualty of the high winds.

“It looks like (the wind) sort of lifted it off,” Wingate said of the Bridgeport Road barn. “The barn’s been standing there since the beginning of time … it’s been through every kind of storm in the world, but this storm was evidently sort of different.”

Wingate, who used the barn for storage, called the building “a total loss” and estimated it would cost about $75,000 to rebuild.

Hudson said Tuesday’s damage could have been caused by a microburst, which is a powerful, localized wind current.

“It wouldn’t surprise me,” said Mike Callahan, an NWS hydrologist, on whether a microburst hit the area. “We don’t have wind measurements everywhere, but for us to declare a severe thunderstorm, (winds) have to be in excess of 60 mph … if the wind catches the shed just right, it can peel the roof right off.”