Damage caused by severe storms that rumbled through the area Thursday evening was caused by straight-line winds and not a tornado, according to the National Weather Service office in Wilmington.
Meteorologist Chris Hogue told The Times-Gazette that radar data confirmed that it was damaging straight-line winds that spiked at 60-70 mph gusts and not a tornado as some suspected.
“We’ve been working with our partners at the Emergency Management Agency there in Highland County,” Hogue said. “Based on the radar information we have, it looks like it was some really strong straight-line winds moving through with the storms late Thursday afternoon and into early evening.”
He said one of the storms moved directly over the National Weather Service facility on SR 134 south of Wilmington, affording what he called “a bird’s-eye view” of unequal amounts of straight-line winds combined with rotational characteristics that never congealed and made it to the ground.
David Bushelman, director of the Highland County Emergency Management Agency, said the only incident report his office received was the possible sighting of a funnel cloud near Paint Creek Road.
Speculation on social media that the Save-A-Lot store in Greenfield was hit by lightning proved to be unfounded.
Lt. Branden Jackmen, public information officer for Paint Creek Joint EMS/Fire District, said emergency crews responded to the Greenfield store and found overheated HVAC equipment on the roof to be the culprit.
He reported the only storm-related call received by the district came around midnight from the 3000 block of SR 73 where it was reported that a tree came down on a house, causing minor damage and no injuries.
“These were multiple super-cell thunderstorms that hit us last night,” Hogue said. “It wasn’t a continuous line so there were several areas, like parts of Highland County, that were thankfully spared from the effects of winds that strong.”
He said the outlook for the St. Patrick’s Day weekend is for mostly sunny skies Saturday with highs in the mid-40s with Sunday bringing a chance of showers in the afternoon and evening and a high near 50.
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.