A team from the National Weather Service confirmed Wednesday that a tornado touched down in Scott County during Tuesday’s storm. The tornado was classified as an EF-1 and touched down at Soards Road near Longview Golf course. Crews also surveyed damage in downtown Georgetown and at Muir Lane but found roof damage at both locations came from straight-line winds.
Heavy rain and wind battered the county for a short time Tuesday afternoon. But the short burst of storms was able to do plenty of damage, flattening barns, damaging the roof of Center of Town Community Center, damaging homes and felling trees.
According to a report from the weather service, the tornado traveled just short of half a mile with wind speeds reaching 90 miles per hour.
The report says it destroyed a well-anchored three-bay barn and scattered debris in three directions. A smaller barn was also destroyed, and a third small barn along the path was damaged. Numerous trees were blown down, snapped or uprooted. Fences were town down as well.
Michael and Marla Marcum have a first-hand view of the path of the tornado.
“It left a trail of of debris straight down the valley,” Marla Marcum said Tuesday afternoon, as bitterly cold winds whipped across the field she and her husband were standing in.
Spread before them were the remnants of a barn, a shed and a section of wooden fence. Behind them, a majority of the barn lay in a heap and debris traced a path from the barn, through two sections of broken fence and through the field.
Tin from the roof of the small barn lay hundreds of yards away from its original location and in the distance, at the end of the debris path, a massive tree lay on the ground, splintered from its trunk.
“It could have been a lot worse,” Michael Marcum said “It didn’t hit the houses. That’s the important thing.”
The Marcums’ house was untouched, as was the home of Marla’s parents on a neighboring lot.
But just across the driveway from their front yard, a splintered board stuck up out of the ground like a tobacco stake, marking the perimeter of the damage path.
“I saw the power line and the fence torn out as I turned into the driveway,” Marla Marcum said. “I was afraid to top the driveway and see the house.”
Scott County Emergency Management Director Jack Donovan was with the crews as they surveyed the damage.
“The barn was probably about the middle of it and then it lifted off by the lake,” he said. “It was definitely a tornado. As soon as I saw it, I knew it was.”
“It could have dome some damage to the homes.”
The crews also checked damage reported to a barn on Muir Lane, 5 miles west from Georgetown and at Center of Town.
Straight-line winds reaching 65 miles per hour ripped the roof off a 60x40 horse barn at Muir Lane and and threw it downwind. Trees were also blown down and shingles were town off a house.
In Georgetown, 60mph winds blew the roof off the community center.
Donovan said the area was under a severe thunderstorm warning on Tuesday, but no tornado warning was issued.
He said the severe thunderstorm warning includes notice that tornadic activity and high winds capable of causing damage are possible. He said the tornado which touched down in Scott County was so narrow, it was hard to detect on radar and wasn’t reported to the weather service or Scott County EMA.
“The criteria to sound the sirens are a tornado must be spotted, we see it on the radar or receive a tornado warning from the National Weather Service,” he said. “I’ll also sound the sirens if a tornado is spotted in another county on the Scott County border.”
However, he said caution should be taken during any severe thunderstorm warning for reasons Tuesday’s damage illustrated.