Tornadoes left damage in at least two locations in Wilkes County on Aug. 17, announced the National Weather Service office in Blacksburg, Va.
Meteorologists Phil Hysell and Nick Fillo from the NWS in Blacksburg visited sites in Wilkes the day after damage occurred and determined that tornadoes touched down near the intersection of Clingman Road and Old 60 in the Clingman community and near the intersection of Mahaffey and Old Benbow roads on the Wilkes-Yadkin county line near the Somers community.
Hysell said they were EF-0 tornadoes, which is the weakest on a scale of 0-5. He said both had peak winds of 80 mph, which is the upper end of an EF-0 tornado and is severe enough to threaten lives and cause serious injuries.
The two meteorologists reported finding uprooted trees at both locations on their visit Wednesday, but more in Clingman.
They reported that portions of a chicken house and two homes were blown off by wind and an outbuilding was flattened in Clingman within a swath of damage .68 of a mile long and about 75 yards wide.
In the Somers community, siding and roof on a home were blown office in a path of damage .75 of a mile long and about 40 yards wide.
The tornado touched down near Somers about 1:45 p.m. and in Clingman about 1:50 p.m. Aug. 17. They were from the same storm. A wall of dark clouds with swirling wind funnels created ominous scenes in eastern Wilkes.
Hysell said the two meteorologists visited an area with downed trees on Cane Creek Church Road near McGrady in northern Wilkes and determined it wasn’t caused by a tornado.
The enhanced EF Scale considers 28 damage indicators, such as building types, other structures and trees.
The first tornado warning in the area was announced around noon Aug. 17 for northeastern Alexander and and northwestern Iredell counties, with the storm moving north about 35 mph.
According to the Taylorsville Times, the NWS office in Greenville-Spartanburg, S.C., confirmed that a tornado touched down about seven miles east of Taylorsville near Stony Point There were downed trees in the Vashti community of northern Alexander and in the Brushy Mountains as it moved into Wilkes.
Hysell said Wilkes Emergency Management Director Suzanne Hamby advised them on where to visit in Wilkes.
Before the two tornadoes on Aug. 17, the NWS has a record of eight confirmed tornadoes in Wilkes since 1950. They were:
• 10 p.m. May 27, 1973, F-1 tornado 9.1 miles long and 33 yards wide from Shepherds X Road in Roaring River in a northeasterly path to Mining Ridge School Road and across U.S. 21 into edge of Surry County. About $250,000 in damage;
• 10:30 p.m. June 1, 1974 F-1 tornado about a mile long on and near Mount Sinai Road in the Little Brushies. Mostly tree damage but some damage to outbuildings. About $25,000 in damage;
• 5 p.m. May 31, 1975, F-1 tornado touched down briefly in woods near end of Barlow Hill, off N.C. 18 North in Mulberry community. About $2,500 in damage;
• 7:30 p.m. April 4, 1977, F-1 tornado went from near Billings Church Road in Traphill in northeasterly direction for 6.4 miles and crossed U.S. 21 in Thurmond before ending just north of Blackburn Road in Surry County. Caused about $60,000 in damage to mobile homes, chicken houses and outbuildings;
• 7:15 p.m. Aug. 16, 1994, F-0 tornado touched down for about a tenth of a mile and 10 yards wide in Shepherds Crossroads community and caused about $50,000 in damage. Destroyed an old store, flattening several chicken houses, breaking windows in houses and damaging outbuildings;
• 4:20 p.m., Sept. 5, 2011, EF-1 tornado touched down just south of intersection of Longbottom and Greenstreet Mountain Resort roads and tracked north into Stone Mountain State Park, destroying 14 outbuildings, damaging three homes and uprooting a large oak tree. Caused about $850,000 inn damage. Associated with remnants of Tropical Storm Lee;
• beginning 5:45 p.m. Oct. 8, 2017, EF-1 tornado touched down just south of U.S. 421 a base of Blue Ridge Mountain escarpment, went north across U.S. 421 and just west of Fall Creek Road, crossed Pattons Ridge Road, Summit Road, Blue Ridge Parkway and lifted near Pine Swamp Road in Ashe County. About 4.37 miles long and about 300 yards wide. Damaged a few outbuildings on Summit Road but mostly timber;
• beginning 4:11 p.m. Oct. 23, 2017, EF-1 tornado touched down near intersection of Oakwoods Road and East Main Street in Wilkesboro. Continued slightly northeasterly, crossed the Old Wilkes YMCA, Yadkin River, Wilkesboro Boulevard, went west of Memorial Park, through downtown North Wilkesboro, crossed Second Street near Boston Avenue intersection, crossed Flint Hill Road, N.C. 268, Temple Street, Fairplains Road, stayed east of N.C. 18 North, crossed Cartpath Road, followed Mountain View Road a short distance and ended near Harrold Mountain Road extension. Went 8.6 miles and caused about $1 million in damage to buildings. Left about 23,000 Wilkes residents without electricity.