Saturday storm brings high winds, fallen trees

AT&T crews put cables back up Sunday morning on C Street in Lenoir City.

Strong winds ripped through parts of downtown Lenoir City on Saturday leaving downed trees and power lines.

Many residents reported seeing funnel clouds form near Lenoir City High School, and videos have been circulating on social media.

Jeremy Buckles, Morristown National Weather Center meteorologist, said there was no evidence of tornadoes in the area.

“We went out and surveyed the damage (Sunday) with Loudon County Emergency Management Agency, and doing so determined it was likely straight-line thunderstorm winds from a microburst that occurred in the area,” Buckles said. “The damage was consistent with that. The radar was also consistent with that.

“I know there were a lot of videos taken and the clouds were very low that afternoon,” he added. “There was a lot of turbulence in the skies. There were some clouds that were a little lower that we refer to as scud clouds. … So when you get any kind of strong or severe thunderstorm with that you have a really warm, kind of moist boundary layer or surface layer. The storm’s pulling that energy-rich area up and into the storm. You’ll get those scud clouds developing and looking like (funnels clouds).”

Buckles said the damage wasn’t consistent with what a tornado causes.

“Most of the wind damage in Lenoir City was along 5th, 6th and 7th Avenues near downtown, kind of between Kingston Street and G Street,” Buckles said. “All of that damage in there was kind of 60 to 70 miles per hour wind damage. There was some kind of higher damage indicators of some 80 miles per hour wind damage near the corner of 5th Avenue and C Street and near the corner of 5th Avenue and F Street. … Ultimately, after surveying the damage and looking at the event, it looks like straight line winds from microbursts with those maximum winds and couple spots along 5th Avenue being about 80 miles per hour.”

Ty Ross, Loudon Utilities Board manager, reported no weather damage in Loudon.

Shannon Littleton, Lenoir City Utilities Board general manager, said 872 customers were without power at the height of the storm Saturday.

“I was able to go out there in downtown Lenoir City and see some of our LCUB employees in action,” Littleton said. “There was more damage than I anticipated that I witnessed when I got there. … Mainly it was due to fallen trees that had taken down several power lines and broken several poles. To my knowledge, we were able to get the power restored to most customers by 11 p.m. Saturday. Of course, some of the harder work and stuff that took more individual attention lasted on into Sunday. Interestingly, it was severe damage in a very small, confined area, but it was significantly more than what I anticipated before I got there.”