New Year’s Eve twister strikes near Dogwood
An eventful weather year in Harrison County remained so all the way through New Year’s Eve when a line of strong to severe thunderstorms rolled through during the afternoon hours.
In addition to strong straight-line wind gusts that caused sporadic tree damage in the region, a brief, small EF-1 tornado touched down from 3:38 to 3:41 just south of the Dogwood area in south-central Harrison County, causing structural damage to several buildings, as well as uprooting and snapping trees.
The tornado touched down just west of S.R. 337 and moved east to near Roger’s Campground Road,
mainly traveling in a sparsely populated area before dissipating after about 2.2 miles.
‘What I have seen are some trees, a small old barn and some damage to a roof,’ Greg Reas, Harrison County’s Emergency Management Agency director, said.
The estimated peak wind speeds reached 100 miles per hour, and it had a maximum width of 140 yards.
It was described as a ‘skipping tornado varying in width, size and speed’ by the National Weather Service.
The tornado crossed S.R. 337 and Robert Thompson’s property, destroying his barn. It also knocked over a number of trees in his yard.
Thompson said he did not see the tornado, but he heard it.
‘It sounded like a train was rolling through,’ he said.
Thompson said he received three warnings on his mobile phone before the tornado came through.
‘It was awful close to us,’ he said. ‘We’re lucky it didn’t do anything to the house.’
According to the National Weather Service, a metal chain fence weighing ‘several hundred pounds’ was picked up and thrown 30 yards into the back of a house causing significant damage to the house in the area of 7200 S.R. 337.
‘A chicken house weighing hundreds of pounds was rolled over and moved several feet,’ the NWS report states. ‘A swing set was thrown from the back of the house to the front. Throughout the property there were twisted and uprooted trees.
‘Just before crossing the highway, the tornado increased from 75 to 140 yards and picked up hundreds of cornstalks tossing them in various directions across the road up to 300 yards away. Across the street at 7768 S.R. 337 (Thompson’s property), there was significant cedar tree damage along with a 30-by-40 foot barn that was destroyed. The tornado twisted and snapped several cedar trees before going across the farmer’s field … ‘
At 4368 Rogers Campground Road, there were several twisted and snapped trees and a single-wide mobile home had siding panels blown out in several spots, the NWS said.
A tornado warning was issued at 3:12 p.m. and sirens sounded throughout the county.
Reas said one siren, in New Middletown, did not function. It was working fine before but didn’t work on New Year’s Eve, he said.
Reas was on-site Thursday at the New Middletown firehouse, where the siren is located, with a repairman.
‘We won’t leave until it’s working,’ Reas said.
The tornado was the second of 2018 for the area, with a stronger, more damaging EF-1 touching down on July 20. That tornado started a little farther north and west but also traveled across S.R. 337, causing significant damage there and around New Middletown. It had similar wind speeds as the New Year’s Eve tornado but was larger, reaching 250 yards at its maximum size.
The year also saw heavy spring floods, March snow and a mid-November ice storm.