In Addition, NWS
Twister To EF-3
BY KEN LITTLE
Four tornadoes are now confirmed to have struck Greene County late April 27 and early April 28, and the strength of the deadly twister that tore through Camp Creek has been upgraded to EF-3 intensity from an initial EF-2 rating.
A previously unidentified EF-0 tornado was confirmed in the Houston Valley area less than two miles southeast of the beginning of the EF-3 tornado that passed through the Camp Creek and Greystone communities.
Five people died that night along the tornado track of the EF-3 Camp Creek twister, and another man who suffered injuries died last week.
Top wind speed estimates of the Camp Creek tornado were raised to 150 mph from 130 mph. The tornado was 16 miles in length and 1,500 yards wide.
The National Weather Service made the revisions Thursday after reviewing information brought back from assessment teams that surveyed storm-damaged sections of Greene County.
"From what we have established so far, we can find at least four different tornado tracks that went through at least some part of Greene County," Morristown-based NWS meteorologist Mary Black said.
HOUSTON VALLEY DETAILS
The EF-0 tornado in the Houston Valley area had maximum wind speeds of 75 mph.
The tornado's track was two miles long and 300 yards wide.
It touched down in the 1000 block of Houston Valley Road, near the Beersheba Masonic Lodge (which was not damaged), and crossed the Asheville Highway (Tennessee Rt. 70) before losing strength.
"That's a real small track. That same tornado dissipated, and another tornado came out of that storm in the Camp Creek area," Black said.
"There was no damage (in the area) between the two tornadoes," Black said.
HORSE CREEK TORNADO
The tornado that struck the Horse Creek community has always been categorized as an EF-3. However, its wind speed has now been revised by the NWS to 160 mph from 150 mph.
That tornado, which had a 14-mile track and was 1,000 yards wide, accounted for another fatality, making a total of seven tornado-related deaths in Greene County.
Another person died in the South Central community in Washington County after the Horse Creek tornado continued its track.
The Ducktown tornado in northeastern Greene County was the first to touch down in the county, at 9:26 p.m. April 27, near Old Snapps Ferry Road.
Maximum winds of the tornado, which had a length of 10 miles and a width of 150 yards, were estimated by the NWS at 120 mph.
It also moved into Washington County before dissipating.
CHRONOLOGY OF EVENTS
Next was the short-lived Houston Valley EF-0 tornado, which died out but was part of the storm cell that re-emerged as the deadly EF-3 tornado that touched down in the Camp Creek community at 10:56 p.m.
The Horse Creek EF-3 tornado touched down at 12:42 a.m. April 28, according to the NWS.
National Weather Service assessment teams fanned out across East Tennessee the day after the tornado outbreak and continue to gather information in the field.
Team members look for stands of trees to see if they were blown over in the same direction or in a random manner. Types of damage to homes and trees are also assessed to determine the strength of the winds, Black said.
Most of the area assessment work is completed, she stated.
"We're still getting phone calls from the public and emergency management and we're still seeing areas of potential damage," she said. "We'll keep doing the assessments until we feel we've got as much information as we can get."
Black also worked for the National Weather service in Nebraska, in part of the area known as "Tornado Alley." She said the tornadoes that tore across East Tennessee last month were part of "a very significant event."
"It's definitely the most significant event I've seen since I've been here," Black said. "This is similar to some of the storms you would see out on the Central Plains."
Including the seven deaths in Greene County, the severe weather system caused at least 33 fatalities in Tennessee.
A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) estimate from earlier this week said there were at least 305 tornadoes between April 25 and 28 during the multi-state outbreak.
The Enhanced Fujita Scale EF-3 tornadoes that hit Greene County are categorized as "severe" on the EF Scale, which ranges from EF-0 (gale) in severity to EF-5 (incredible).
The Enhanced Fujita Scale is divided into six categories:
* EF-0 (gale)
* EF-1 (weak)
* EF-2 (strong)
* EF-3 (severe)
* EF-4 (devastating)
* EF-5 (incredible)