60 mph downdraft severely damages two Hawkins residences, leaving seven homeless

Jeff Bobo • Apr 15, 2019 at 6:01 PM

ROGERSVILLE — A severe thunderstorm that hit Hawkins County Sunday evening produced a powerful downdraft that downed trees and power lines and severely damaged two residences near Rogersville, leaving seven people without a home.

No injuries were reported, and the Red Cross was in Hawkins County late Sunday assisting those two families with temporary lodging.

The National Weather Service confirmed that Sunday’s wind damage on Shephards Chapel Road just west of Rogersville was caused by a 60 mph downdraft.

Hawkins County Emergency Management Agency Director Gary Murrell said the damage path was about a mile long, but the two damaged homes were on Shephards Chapel Road.

"It took down trees, power lines, poles — anything in its path for about a mile stretch in this area," Murrell said. "One large tree went through the middle of a mobile home and landed on an SUV. That residence had two adults and two children home at the time, but they weren't hurt, thank God."

Murrell added, "Straight across the street from that was a two-story structure that appeared to be a barn underneath and a residence on the upper level. There were two adults and a child home there when it blew the roof completely off the house and went out through the trees and ruined everything inside their home."

On Monday, the couple who lost their roof, Jonathan and Amber Hurd, posted on Facebook asking if anyone knew of a clean, furnished home to rent for a couple of months. A link to the Hurds’ post can be found in the online version of this article at www.timesnews.net.

Click here for the Hurd family GoFundMe page.

There was no information available about the occupants of the mobile home.

In a different location on Shephards Chapel Road, seven pine trees snapped during the downdraft, destroying a yard barn but missing the residence.

NWS meteorologist Rick Garuckas told the Times News that a severe thunderstorm warning was issued for Hawkins and surrounding counties at 6:31 p.m.

Radar was showing strong straight-line winds, which we also refer to as downdrafts or downbursts," Garuckas said. "These straight-line winds were up to 60 mph, according to Doppler Radar. (Aside form Rogersville), that same cluster of thunderstorms and several other lines of thunderstorms continued moving north and east toward the Tri-Cities area, and there were scattered pockets of similar wind damage — some trees that fell, took out some power lines here and there, leading to some scattered power outages as well."

Garuckas added, "Most of the wind speeds in these storms were consistent with about 60 mph on the higher end, and on the lower end around 45-50 mph. The majority of the damage was centered around the Rogersville area."