The National Weather Service in Jackson said a “bow echo” or line of thunderstorms passed through Harlan County on Wednesday night caused downed trees and power outages throughout the county.
“Harlan County was one of our hardest hit in this storm,” said Cliff Feltham, Statewide Media Relations Manager for Kentucky Utilities Company. “The highest number of customers we had off in Harlan County at one time was 4,600 in the early morning hours on Thursday. We have dedicated a number of crews from other parts of our company to come in and help and we’ve reduced the number of outages down to less than 1,800 by 3 p.m. We will continue the restoration operations until we get everyone back on.”
He said that likely will be into the Thursday evening with some not coming back on until Friday morning.”
John Pelton, Lead Forecaster with the NWS in Jackson said the storm moved down from southeast Indiana into central Kentucky and then down into eastern Kentucky Wednesday evening. He said the storm had wind gusts in the 60 to 70 mph range.
“A few places may have had higher and some lower gusts than that,” said Pelton. “This led to a lot of trees down in Harlan County and other places in eastern Kentucky.”
Based on reports from Harlan County, Pelton said at the Harlan Airport wind gusts were recorded at 45 mph, but other locations reported gusts as high as 70 mph. He said Wallins Creek reported “a lot of downed tree damage.”
Pelton said Harlan County received .62 inches of rain from the short-lived storm. He said the storm was moving, by the time it reached Harlan County, at about 50 mph before moving into southwest Virginia.
“There was a considerable amount of damage done to our system from wind-blown tree limbs into our lines or in some cases whole trees fell,” said Feltham. “We also had some lightning strikes that caused outages as well. So, there is a lot of tree clearance work going on as we restore power to those neighborhoods that are still off, which is a slow going process.”
The storm forced the closing of James A. Cawood and Cawood elementary schools due to power outages on Thursday.
Nola Sizemore may be reached at 606-909-4147 or on Twitter @Nola_hde