CALLOWAY COUNTY — The first day of summer is supposed to be the longest day of the year.
However, Friday afternoon, things went dark much earlier than anticipated as a violent thunderstorm complex ripped its way into Calloway County and not only caused the skies to darken, but also left more than 3,000 residents without power, some of whom were not expected to regain that power until sometime today.
“We’ve also had reports of at least four trees landing on top of houses from this, but no injuries, so that’s good,” said Calloway County Emergency Management Director Bill Call after the storms had moved through the county.
Most of those houses were in a narrow strip along KY 94 West just west of the Crossland Road intersection. There, one house was left almost engulfed by a large tree that had crashed onto it as the storm hit just before 6 p.m.
Another storage building adjacent to a house also had a tree on top of it, leaving significant damage. There also appears to have been a near-miss with a pickup truck being brushed by one of two trees that fell onto a driveway and just missed another house.
Bobby Potts was the homeowner whose truck missed the brunt of the trees. It emerged with the right side-view mirror damaged.
“What’s crazy is the side where the mirror is off is where the damage is. The side where the tree was falling from? That mirror is still on,” Potts said. “I was just lying (inside the house) watching TV and the power went out, then, maybe a tornado hit, I don’t know. It was loud.
“I tried opening the door, but the wind was keeping it shut.”
Across the highway, Russ Wilson of Stella said his mother, Annette, was inside her house when the tree came down. He said Friday evening that his mother still was very shaken from the experience.
“She’s so tore up that she hasn’t talked to me about it yet,” Russ said. “She always gets into her storm shelter when one of these is coming and that’s where she was this time. She’s been expecting something like this for 10 years.
“I was in Stella at the time it happened, and we had a little bit of wind, but nothing like this over here. I’m just proud that she’s OK.”
Call said the highest wind gust measured during the storm was 50 mph, but indications from the National Weather Service were that the storms were capable of producing winds as high as 70 mph. The National Weather Service Office in Paducah included this language in the severe thunderstorm warnings it had issued for Calloway and numerous others counties throughout western Kentucky at the time.
Call said he was told by West Kentucky Rural Electric Cooperative Corporation officials that 3,271 customers in Calloway County had lost power due to the storms. This, however, was only a fraction of the entire problem WKRECC was facing as Friday night loomed.
“I was with David Smart (WKRECC president and CEO and a Murray resident) and he told me that the outage was for up to 12,000-plus people of the entire service area,” Call said.