What was confirmed Monday afternoon to be a small tornado ripped through a portion of Highland County on Sunday evening, leaving a path of fallen trees and damaged structures.
Doug Puckett of Holladay Road just west of Hillsboro said the tornado came through at around 8:40 p.m.
A video submitted by local resident Sabrina Shoemaker of some ominous clouds that appear to be forming a funnel just before the tornado hit can be seen by clicking here.
Puckett’s family was away at the time, and he was working on his computer when “I heard a low rumble for two or three minutes.” He went outside and noticed a “greenish, purple” sky.
“I looked up and saw a white column, swirling,” and coming from the northwest onto his property.
The white swirling column made its way down a hillside on Puckett’s property near his house, heading toward his home. He took cover, and then watched the funnel make its way to the southeast, following Holladay Road.
The tornado left a patch of fallen trees, and roof damage to Puckett’s house. The storm also damaged neighbors’ homes, including taking a door off a pole barn across the road.
Puckett said that the low rumble he had heard initially was apparently the tornado ripping into a barn on the northern part of his property, which was heavily damaged.
A neighbor who stopped by Monday morning told Puckett she had seen the tornado coming, and “we called as many neighbors as we knew to warn them.” Puckett said he had heard Monday from a resident on nearby SR 138 that the tornado had been spotted crossing 138 and heading toward Puckett’s property.
A sheriff’s deputy surveying the damage said Monday that there were several areas hit, including Green Road. He said the tornado had continued from Hollady Road, onto Ervin Road, then “jumped 62” and landed on Green Road. But he said that the Holladay Road area “is the worst hit area.”
Residents lost power, and crews were on the scene into Monday morning working to restore electricity. Several power poles and lines were knocked down by the storm.
Paint Creek Joint EMS/Fire District Chief Bradley George said Monday, “We were very, very lucky.” He said firefighters were dispatched Sunday night to two properties on Ervin Road, where power lines were down.
Sheriff’s deputies had asked firefighters to check the structures, a trailer and a house, to see if anyone was trapped inside due to the downed power lines. No one was home at either residence, said George. The trailer had a collapsed roof, he said.
George said the incident is another reminder for residents to be “very vigilant.” He said that a warning system in the area would not have activated in time to alert anyone to the possible tornado because of how quickly it formed. He said the damage came either from a small tornado or from the up-draft or down-draft from swirling high winds.
A spokesperson with the National Weather Service said Monday morning that a surveyor was on the scene to determine whether the storm was officially a tornado.
“We are looking at the damage,” she said. “It’s definitely a possibility. The atmosphere was primed for a tornado.” Later Monday, the NWS confirmed that the damage was caused by an EFO tornado.
For Puckett, there was never any doubt that what he saw was a tornado.
“It was a skinny one, but definitely a tornado,” he said.
Puckett was on the phone with his insurance company Monday morning, and was frustrated at the response he was getting.
“They say none of this is covered,” he said, shaking his head as he surveyed the debris strung across his property.
The sheriff’s office said there were no injuries reported from the storm.