Thunderstorm Wind Pounds Northern Shelby County

 

Thursday, July 23, 1998

 

A cluster of thunderstorms swept across northern Shelby county between 845 pm and 915 pm, with estimated winds of up to 60 mph. The area between the city of Millington and Shelby Forest (Fig 1) was hardest hit. In particular, St Paul Rd and Tompkins Lane received the most damage with trees stripped of branches in some areas along St Paul Lane and then trees blown down away from the center point. This was noted in several places along the road.

On St Paul Rd, a detached garage was demolished where the walls had collapsed and the roof was intact sitting behind the foundation Fig. 2. Other damage included a fallen tree onto a truck. On Tompkins Lane, a tree had fallen onto a house Fig. 3 while hail damage was noted on both sides of the house.

The violent wind gusts were part of something that meteorologists refer to as a 'downburst'. Downbursts are the most common kind of damaging weather associated with thunderstorms. Most downbursts are short lived (5 to 10 minutes) and are weaker than 50 mph, but can reach 100 mph which is often confused with tornadic damage. Figure 4 is a schematic drawing of a general downburst.

It was determined that multiple downbursts occurred in northern Shelby county as multiple areas were observed to have trees stripped of all branches, then trees blown down away in the same direction from that center point. The damage was confined to along St Paul Rd and Tompkins Lane.


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