Claiborne County Tornado: April 26, 2007


Event Overview:

On the evening of April 26, 2007, a supercell (a thunderstorm with strong rotation) developed over the Cumberland Plateau along a pre-frontal trough, while a quasi-stationary warm front was located across northeast Tennessee. This supercell thunderstorm moved northeast along the northern Cumberland Plateau from Cumberland County into Claiborne County. As this storm began to interact with the warm frontal boundary over Claiborne County, it produced a tornado near New Tazewell with six injuries reported.

Surface plot image at 6 pm EDT on April 26, 2007.
Surface plot image at 6 pm EST on April 26, 2007.

Because of the strong rotation observed by Doppler radar in this supercell thunderstorm, a tornado warning was issued for Union and Claiborne Counties at 7:16 pm EDT. Radar images at 7:25 pm EDT (below) revealed a strong hook echo (in the reflectivity image) over Union County, with strong rotation seen in the storm relative velocity image. On relectivity images, a hook echo on the back edge of a supercell can indicate that rain is being wrapped around a strong rotation. The green areas on the storm relative velocity image indicate motion toward the Morristown radar, while the red areas indicate motion away from the radar. When these two areas are next to each other, we can infer that the thunderstorm is rotating.

Radar reflectivity image at 7:25 pm EDT on April 26, 2007.
Radar reflectivity image at 7:25 pm EDT on April 26, 2007.

Storm relative velocity image at 7:25 pm EDT on April 26, 2007.
Storm relative velocity image at 7:25 pm EDT on April 26, 2007.

As this supercell approached New Tazewell, the storm relative velocity image at 7:55 pm EDT (below) revealed strengthening rotation.

Storm relative velocity image at 7:55 pm EDT on April 26, 2007.
Storm relative velocity image at 7:55 pm EDT on April 26, 2007.

A National Weather Service survey team determined (from the damage created) that the tornado had winds around 100 mph and was rated an EF-1 on the Enhanced Fujita scale. The path was found to be approximately 4.6 miles long, with a maximum path width around 75 yards. The damage path began on Fords Chapel Road between New Hope Road and Barren Creek Road. A few trees were snapped in this area. The tornado tracked northeast along Barren Creek Road, where multiple mobile homes were damaged with one blown over and destroyed. Tree damage was extensive along Barren Creek Road, with large trees both snapped and uprooted. Some homes were also damaged, with a patio roof blown back and shingles and siding blown off. The tornado tracked parallel to Highway 33, snapping trees and causing minor damage to homes in subdivisions on Mountain Road, Rutherford Drive, Harmon Road, and Rowe Street. The tornado crossed Highway 33 near the city limits of New Tazewell before dissipating.

This is the second tornado to affect Claiborne County during April 2007. Another EF-1 tornado on April 3rd touched down near Clairfield and caused damage near New Tazewell. The tracks of both tornadoes actually crossed near New Tazewell.

Damage Photos

Front view of house damage

Side view of house damage

Back view of house damage

Photo of tree damage

Another photo of tree damage


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