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Downed trees, fires in Johnson City area after severe storm sweeps region

June 13th, 2013 10:00 pm by Jennifer Sprouse

Downed trees, fires in Johnson City area after severe storm sweeps region

A tree down in the Melrose/Iris Avenue area of east Johnson City off Oakland Avenue. Contributed by Kelly Trottie

Downed trees and power lines, a broken power pole and flooding were the subjects of the majority of calls made to area emergency dispatchers and Power Board personnel Thursday afternoon following a series of severe storms that hit the region.

Meteorologist Sam Roberts with the National Weather Service in Morristown said Thursday evening that the thunderstorms originated from the Upper Midwest and traveled across the Northern Ohio Valley with damage reported in the Johnson City/Washington County area.

“Mainly it’s been trees and power lines down. There’s been a little bit of hail ... but those have been the main threats of these storms,” Roberts said. “There’s been some heavy rainfall across those areas and I don’t think we’ve had any reports of any roads closed or anything. I know there have been a few places where there’s water covering some roadways, but (they are) still passable to cars at this point.”

Roberts said the storms, which were expected to exit the region around 4:30 p.m. Thursday, would be the end of the rain for awhile.

The total rainfall recorded at Tri-Cities Regional Airport in Blountville Thursday was 0.59 inch, according to an NWS representative.

Just after 2 p.m., emergency radio communications dispatchers were reporting trees down in area neighborhoods downtown, as well as one tree reportedly on fire that had fallen on a house at Hillsboro Avenue.

Areas in the city that reported storm damage included Baxter Street, Melrose Avenue, Kiwanis Park, Carter Avenue, Center Street, East Chilhowie Avenue, East Holston Avenue and homes located on or in neighborhoods off Knob Creek Road.

A tree had also fell on Johnson City Federal Credit Union near East Main Street in downtown Johnson City.

According to Johnson City Power Board, isolated power outages were reported throughout Washington County. Initial reports of 3,000 customers without power around 3 p.m. jumped to an estimated 5,000 customers around 4:15 p.m.

According to a JCPB Twitter post at 6:20 p.m. Thursday, the number of outages in the area had decreased to around 1,500 still without power and crews were working on restoring power to all customers.

Dispatchers said later Thursday night that areas on Tenn. Highway 81 South, Cherokee Road and Treadway Trail saw flooding, and personnel with Johnson City Fire Department stood by until the water had gone down. No injuries were reported from the storm.

According to emergency radio communications, Washington County authorities and Tennessee Department of Transportation personnel at one point were running out of barricades due to the many road closures in the area.

Johnson City’s Parkside Cinema at Cardinal Park was cancelled Thursday night and according to a Johnson City press release, Memorial Park Community Center closed at 4 p.m. due to power outages from the severe weather.

Unicoi County Emergency Management Director Ed Herndon said some ditches overflowed on the north end of the county during the brief storm, but no injuries were reported. Herndon also said he has received no reports of homes being flooded or downed power lines. 

“We may have had some downed trees, but no one has reported to me any outages,” Herndon said. 

Herndon said he is unsure how much rainfall the county received during the storm, which lasted approximately 45 minutes. He said water did wash onto the road along Marbleton Road and Unicoi Drive and in the Sugar Hollow area.

Carter and Johnson counties also had downed trees from the storm, and Johnson County also reported a few power outages.

Greene County was under a tornado warning at one point during the storm, but only downed trees and minor damage were reported.

According to the NWS’ seven-day forecast on its website, today is predicted to be sunny with a high near 79 degrees and tonight will be mostly clear with lows near 52 degrees.

Saturday is predicted to also be sunny with a high around 85 degrees. Saturday night’s low is expected to be around 60 degrees with partly cloudy skies.

According to the NWS, Sunday has the next chance of rain, with a 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms after 2 p.m. On Sunday night, the chance of rain increases to 30 percent. Sunday’s high is forecast to be around 88 degrees, with a low around 62 degrees.

Erwin Bureau Chief Brad Hicks contributed to this report.

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