Lincoln County was fortunate to escape serious harm when an EF-1 tornado struck just before dawn Wednesday morning.
The twister was just one of several extreme weather conditions here in the past week, sometimes typical of Tennessee weather. Over a seven-day timeframe, temperatures rose close to the 70’s early on, setting the stage for the tornado as a cold front moved in overnight Tuesday, followed by sub-freezing temps, sleet and a light snowfall Saturday morning. The half-inch snowfall quickly disappeared, though, as skies cleared and the temperature rose above freezing.
Officials with the National Weather Service out of Huntsville and the Lincoln County Emergency Management Agency visited the impacted areas Friday and again Saturday. According to their preliminary report, filed Saturday afternoon, the tornado touched down at 4:53 a.m. Wednesday and traveled over five miles of southwestern Lincoln County, between the Dellrose and Harms areas.
“The tornado was at its strongest – with 100-mile per hour max winds and a max path width of 250 yards – along JD Suggs Road where a 40- by 60-foot metal barn was destroyed,” reads the report. “A trailer was rolled on its side and numerous softwood trees, cedars, were snapped near the base or uprooted. Damage was also found downstream along Curtis Road and Highway 274.”
Residential roof and barn damage, as well as downed fencing, was also reported in the area. One home had its majestic pillars shift from their foundation.
Crews with the Lincoln County Highway Department were out in force, clearing roadways in the area of downed trees and other debris. In addition to JD Suggs Road, roadways such as Hovis Bend and Cheatham Road also had to be cleared.
Additionally, Fayetteville Public Utilities reported that it had 203 customers lose power as a result of the high winds.
“Most of the problems we had with the high winds this past week were isolated to south and southwest parts of Lincoln County,” said Britt Dye, FPU chief executive officer and general manager. “We had one pole that was torn down by a big tree that fell through the power line.”
Dye said the first call that came in to FPU was received at approximately 4:15 a.m. Wednesday morning, not long before the tornado touched down.