According to KSP dispatcher Bill Lewis, very large trees fell all over the county. The most severe areas for tree and power line falls were at Coldiron, Lynch and on KY 72 at Mary Alice.
Harlan County Emergency Management Director Everett Jones said a Wallins Volunteer Fire Department firefighter reported that a tornado had apparently touched down on Abe Hill at Coldiron.
Jones said the firefighter reported that a path of large trees along the mountaintop were mowed down where the tornado apparently swept through the area. He said some of them appeared to be twisted off their roots. He said there were reports of a tree on a house in that area. The firefighters were attempting to cut trees out of the road to get to the house.
Some residents in the Lynch area reported that a tree and a house were struck by lightning, which caught the tree on fire. The area had been placed on a tornado warning status around 5 p.m. The weather service office at Jackson reported a tornado sighting at Chad, reportedly moving toward Lynch. There were no reports of a tornado actually touching down in that area.
There was a report of one tree that fell on a trailer at Asbury Hollow in Mary Alice and other trees reported down in Wallins, Cawood and Bledsoe. Besides the serious wreck at Short Town, no other injuries have been reported in the county.
Traffic was backed up for miles on KY 72 due to trees lying across the road and across power lines. Kentucky Utilities, REA and the state highway department staff were still working at press time to clear the roadways and restore electricity. Power outages were reported at Smith, Mary Alice and Evarts.
During the storm, Pansy Short, 45, was driving east on KY 38 at Short Town when her 1996 Suzuki Sidekick hydroplaned on standing water on the roadway.
According to KSP Trooper Chris Frazier, the Suzuki crossed the centerline and collided head-on with a 1982 loaded Mack truck driven by Arnold Whitehead III, 39, who sustained injuries. Short and her passenger, Dorothy Wynn, 75, sustained multiple serious injuries. They were pinned in their vehicle and had to be extricated by the Harlan County Rescue Squad. All the injured were transported by Johnson's Lifecare to Harlan Appalachian Regional Hospital.
The vehicles were removed from the highway by Pennington's heavy recovery wreckers.
The rash of storms in the county began around 4 a.m. on Wednesday. Showers were reported throughout the day before the major storm hit in the evening. Two inches of rain was expected overnight and scattered thunderstorms are expected today.