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‘Grace of God’ spares county from 3 supercell storms

‘Grace of God’ spares county from 3 supercell storms
‘Grace of God’ spares county from 3 supercell storms
Kevin Freitas watches as workers with the Town of Corydon clean up a tree Friday morning that had fallen during Thursday night's storms onto the porch of the home he owns in the 500 block of East Chestnut Street in Corydon. (Photo by Alan Stewart)

A trio of powerful thunderstorms pounded Harrison County Thursday evening, but outside of a couple of minor incidents, residents experienced little damage.
Between about 6 p.m. and 1 a.m., three supercell storms raced through the county. The same line of severe weather spawned dozens of reports of tornadoes across the Midwest, including 12 twisters in Kentucky ‘ a total that equals the yearly average for the Bluegrass State ‘ 10 in Michigan, six in Indiana, and two each in Illinois and Alabama.
‘Other than some damage to a few homes, most of that relative minor, the worst I’ve seen is a porch that was severely damaged, some soffits blown off and things like that,’ said Harrison County Emergency Management Agency director Greg Reas. ‘There were sporadic areas where there were trees down and a few power lines down, but they were typical things you’d see with ordinary storms. The damage was kind of here and there. Reports of damage of any kind were very sparse. Most people had light hail and wind, and then the lightning was absolutely astounding. Once again, we were very lucky, considering how things could have been. It was the grace of God, I suppose.’
Earlier in the day, the National Weather Service office in Louisville held a teleconference call with EMA directors from across south-central Indiana and northern Kentucky to warn of the possible dangers of the unusual October storm.
A fast-moving jet stream, unseasonably warm temperatures and moisture from the Gulf of Mexico made the atmosphere ripe for severe weather, NWS officials said.
A giant tree in the 500 block of East Chestnut Street in downtown Corydon was reportedly struck by lightning then felled by strong wind. One branch of the tree destroyed a front porch of one home and crushed a car sitting in the driveway of a neighboring home; a second branch tore siding, roofing and gutters off of another residence; and a third branch blocked Chestnut Street for most of the evening.
‘My kids were on the front porch and said they saw the bolt of lightning hit the tree,’ said Randy McKnight, owner of the damaged car. ‘The first thing I noticed this morning was the sunbeams coming in because that tree used to block all of that. It had to be one of the biggest or oldest trees in Corydon.
‘Those guys out there, bless their hearts, they’ve been out here all night getting that tree cleaned up, though,’ he said. ‘The fire department, the police, the town, they are hard core. They’ve done a great job.’
Kevin Freitas, who owns the home with the damaged porch, said his sister-in-law was in the front room with her 18-month-old child when the tree ‘ and porch ‘ came down.
‘She said she thought it was the porch swing banging against the side of the house,’ Freitas said. ‘They were pretty lucky.’
Locally, an EF-3 tornado with speeds registering from 136 to 165 miles per hour touched down about six miles northeast of Charlestown. While it was on the ground, the twister destroyed five barns and several other outbuildings and damaged 10 homes, at least four severely.
Breckinridge County in Kentucky was hit with an EF-2 tornado, with EF-1 tornadoes being reported in Perry County in Indiana as well as Northern Bullitt, Meade and Hancock counties in Kentucky.
The city of Nappanee in northern Indiana was hit with a tornado that packed winds of 160 miles per hour. The twister sent five people from Nappanee to hospitals with what police said were minor injuries. The storm damaged 200 to 250 buildings; of those, 100 to 150 were either destroyed or severely damaged.