Severe windstorm whips through area

OLIVER TOWNSHIP — A huge windstorm that caused damage to property, trees and electric lines in Oliver and Ringgold townships was determined to not be a tornado, according to Jefferson County Emergency Services.
A severe storm passed through Jefferson County at 2:57 p.m. Monday, causing minor home damage, and downing numerous trees and power lines in Oliver and Ringgold townships.

The National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm warning for the county around 2:15 p.m., which was upgraded to a tornado warning about 25 minutes later.

911 dispatchers broadcast the warnings over the county's radio system, which alerted communities to the possibility of tornado activities, said Tracy Zents, director of Emergency Services for Jefferson County.
Tornado sirens were activated in the Brookville area as well, to alert the public.

Zents said the warning messages were taken seriously, and there were no injuries.

Eric Wingert, a member of the Oliver Township Volunteer Fire Company, said he witnessed a possible funnel cloud that formed over his home on St. John Road.

"I saw the tail of the cloud trying to form a funnel, but it never began to rotate or touch down," he said, adding that his greenhouse sustained damage, and a carport was lifted off the ground and moved about five feet in the air.

Bruce Baughman, Oliver Township Fire Company chief, said from what he and his firefighters were able to observe, the damage was limited to St. John Road, Barton Chapel Road and Lightning Rod Hollow Road in the Sprankle Mills area.

Other damage was reported to the roof of a house on Barton Chapel Road, with numerous trees sheered off at the top.

A storage building and a smoke house were destroyed by the high winds at property along Lightning Rod Hollow Road, with the contents of the storage building and aluminum soffit and facia blown into a wooded area located alongside the road.

Zents said that damage assessment teams found minor damage to several homes throughout the Oliver Township area.

Numerous trees and power lines were down in several parts of Oliver and Ringgold townships, and power crews were working on restoring power, while firefighters from Oliver and Ringgold Township Fire Departments worked to clear the roads from debris.

"It appears this damage was caused by straight line winds," Zents said. "We did receive reports of rotation within the sky; however, no touchdowns were reported."

Zents said that by visually looking at the damage and conferring with the National Weather Service, the damage was caused by the straight line winds, which on weather radar appears to have the same characteristics as a tornado.

"We took no chances with alerting the public with this storm," he said.
Homeowners whose houses sustained wind damage were able to repair it and stay in their homes.