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At least one person was injured and several structures were damaged as a result of a severe storm that Marion County Friday evening, April 15. In addition to roof damage and trees in the road, the winds also caused a 20-foot wide by 70-foot tall silo to collapse on Randall Lawson's farm on Willies Trail Road.
Lawson said he was at home when he received a phone call around 7 or 7:30 Friday evening from the workers who live at the farm.
"I knew it wasn't good," he said.
Eight of Lawson's cattle were eating from a trough near the silo when it fell. Five heifers died as a result of the collapse, and Lawson said Saturday that he thought he would have to put down three more.
"They can't get up," he said.
Lawson said he has had roof damage from previous wind storms, but he'd never had a silo blow over. He estimated that the silo that collapsed was between 10 and 15 years old.
"The main thing is nobody was hurt," Lawson said. "You hate to lose cattle, but no people were hurt."
Hayden Johnson, the deputy emergency management director for Marion County, noted that more than 300 claims have been submitted to insurance agents in the county. Comparing reports with maps in the PVA's office, local officials have estimated that the storm affected a section of Marion County 11 miles long and three miles wide.
Marion County Judge/Executive John G. Mattingly said county road crews were out until 9 p.m. Friday night removing tree limbs and sometimes whole trees from roads.
Mattingly added that there was a lot of roof damage and several signs blew down, and he said he had received one report of an individual who was injured by a sign that was blown down by the wind. (No further information is available about the individual who was injured at this time.)
The winds that blew through Marion County Friday afternoon and evening were part of a larger storm system that traveled from Oklahoma to Maryland between April 14 and 16. According to information on the National Weather Service website, the storm system generated hundreds of reports of tornadoes, hail and wind damage.
John Denman, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service's Louisville office, said the winds that blew through central Kentucky were created by an unusual weather phenomena.
"It's actually something that I had not seen before," Denman said.
The winds were the result of a pressure drop that coincided with precipitation leaving the area. Denman said he saw readings that showed gusts of up to 50 miles per hour in Campbellsville, and he estimated that the gusts that came through Marion County were between 50 and 60 miles per hour. The pressure drop allowed strong winds from a higher altitude to drop closer to the surface, he said.
"It was a pretty concentrated area of straight line winds," Denman said.
One of those big gusts affected Steve VanDyke, who was watching a movie on the SyFy Channel inside his business, Lebanon Gun and Pawn on Cemetery Road. The big wind interrupted his program.
"I said, 'It sounded like the roof blew off,'" he said. "[Joyce, his wife] went outside. She said, 'It did.'"
He compared the sound to a freight train.
"It just sounded like somebody stomping on tin, tin rattling," he said.
Somehow, the roof missed a truck parked on the side of the building, although it did knock out electricity to his store and The Hair Zone next door.
Eileen Hughes and Polly Miller were at the hair salon when the storm came through. Hughes said she could see the storm coming up Pebble Brook Road.
"We heard a boom, but we thought it was thunder," she said.
Instead, it was their neighbor's roof.
The storm also knocked over the brick sign for the business center on the other side of the pawn shop.
VanDyke said his wife had just returned to the shop and had been talking about the wind moments before the roof was removed from the building. All things considered, VanDyke was in good spirits. He said the business survived a hail storm, it would survive this. He added that he was more bothered by losing the television signal.
"I had 10 minutes left in my movie," VanDyke said with a laugh, "and I missed it."