Localized damage was reported to some areas after a severe thunderstorm swept through Harlan County Tuesday evening.
Sunshine Volunteer Fire Department (SVFD) responded to the scene of a fallen utility pole, brought down by high winds, in the Teetersville area, posing a threat of fire to several homes in the area.
“At about 8 p.m., after a storm had moved through, we were paged out that a utility pole had fallen onto two trailers on Branson Street in Teetersville. Upon arrival, we saw garbage cans strewn out in the street and a utility pole had fallen against a double-wide. Wires from the downed pole were laying atop another single-wide trailer,” said SVFD Chief Steven Hatfield. “We’re more of less just standing by until Kentucky Utilities can arrive on the scene and cut the power off.”
Owner of the double-wide, Michael Lloyd, 56, said he and his wife were away from their home during the time the storm rolled through the area.
“When we returned my mother, Lois, who is 83 years old, told me she heard a loud cracking noise when the storm came through,” said Lloyd. “I walked around to my home and saw the utility pole leaning against my double-wide and wires laying on top of my mother’s trailer. I immediately got my mother out of her home and to a neighbor’s house and called 911.”
Hatfield said when a utility pole falls and “live” wires on laying on top of a trailer there is a potential threat of fire and electrocution.
“The single-wide being metal, electricity can travel anywhere through it,” said Hatfield. “That’s why we’re keeping everyone back a good distance from it — they could be electrocuted. The double-wide is more of a fire danger and if ignited fire could spread across the neighborhood to other homes.”
John Jacobson, Senior Meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Jackson, said Tuesday was a day where the “air was very unstable,” and there were “a lot of ingredients required for severe thunderstorms in Harlan County.”
“With that instability, a line of thunderstorms moved through. It didn’t produce wide-spread damage, but there were little pockets of damage here and there,” said Jacobson.
Looking toward the weekend, Jacobson said the thing he is “most worried about” for Friday and Saturday is flash flooding.
“Friday and Saturday we will have moisture-laden air. There’s a value we look at and there is a thing called precipitable water,” said Jacobson.
“In other words, if you wrung out water from the air mass how much would it be? Right now, it’s sitting at 2 inches and 2 inches is at the top of the chart for this time of the year. With the moisture-laden air and the fact that flow is very weak that means storms will move slowly. Slow-moving moisture-laden storms are the kind that produce minor flooding. Normally, for this kind of scenario it will be very localized — not widespread, as to where the storms will hit.”
Jacobson went on to explain this scenario as “streaks of precipitation.”
“Instead of a solid blanket of precipitation, you’ll see little streaks of it,” said Jacobson. “If that streak just happens to be over your holler, you’re going to get a lot of rain. The threat in in the creeks, drainage ditches and roads washing out. It comes fast and comes like it’s being poured out of buckets.”
Adding the biggest threat for flash flooding will be on Saturday and Saturday night, Jacobson encourages everyone to take precautions when high water is present.
Nola Sizemore may be reached at 606-573-4510 or on Twitter @Nola_hde