Officials of the National Weather Service Office in Nashville conducted a ground survey of the wind damage in Hickman County.
A line of thunderstorms moved across the western counties of middle Tennessee on Friday, May 17, 2002. The thunderstorms were moving from the southwest to northeast at 35 miles an hour. These storms moved across Perry County into the southwest part of Hickman County. The storm reached its peak strength over southwest Hickman County about 345 PM. Then the suspended core of the thunderstorm collapsed and brought down extremely strong winds. This downburst started just south of Highway 50 near the Shipp Bend and Huddleston Cemetery area and continued with a storm track of 3.7 miles to the Puckett Hollow area.
Damage occurred at a farm on a hilltop in this area. Wind destroyed a barn with parts of the tin roof carried into the tree line one-half mile to the northeast. Several large trees (2 feet in diameter) were uprooted blocking the road. Winds were funneled into a small valley causing extensive tree damage. All damage was laid out in a line showing wind movement from southwest to northeast indicating straight-line winds. One very interesting damage feature, several blunt-ended 2x4's from the barn were driven 8 inches into the ground approximately 100 yards from the barn foundation. Winds in this area are estimated over 100 miles an hour.
The storm continued collapsing as it moved toward Highway 50. More tree damage occurred at several homes along the highway. Evidence suggests that the wind remained above ground level due to terrain features and tree cover. A farm sustained extensive damage on Upper Shipp Road about a quarter mile north of Highway 50. Two grain silos were destroyed with one completely taken off the foundation and carried 35 feet. Fallen trees extensively damaged several homes. Following along the storm track, debris from the silos was found 1.3 miles to the northeast near the county fair pavilion. Winds were estimated over 80 miles an hour in this area.
The storm continued along the same path near the Grinders Switch area with little damage found. When the storm reached the Puckett Hollow area the remainder of the storm descended. This caused tremendous tree damage along a small creek. Trees fell on and around a home causing extensive damage to the home. Three residents were in the home, but no injuries occurred. Hickman County Emergency Management responded and had to clear trees from around the house for the residents to be able to get out. Winds again were estimated in the 80 mile-an-hour range with tree damage suggesting straight-line winds.
In conclusion, National Weather Service officials determined that the damage was caused by straight-line winds and not from a tornado.
Special thanks to the Hickman County Emergency Management Agency, particularly Terry Cloud, for their time and assistance. Thanks also to SKYWARN storm spotter Mickey Bunn of WNKX for his assistance.
Data Acquisition Program Manager
Information Technology Officer