National Weather Service officials confirmed Thursday that at least one tornado struck Highland County in the early morning hours Wednesday, carving a path of about seven miles.
While NWS confirmed that a tornado struck in the Leesburg area, the service had yet to determine the strength of the tornado. Residents in other parts of the county have said they believe their property was also the victim of a tornado, not just high winds.
Either way, the storms that rolled through the county beginning around 2:30 a.m. Wednesday left a path of property destruction in their wake.
Highland County Emergency Management Agency Director Jim Lyle said Thursday afternoon he was touring the county with a NWS official as they determine the scope of the damage and whether other areas were hit with what could officially be designated a tornado.
Lyle said officials believe the tornado began on SR 72 in Penn Township, just north of Samantha and just below Leesburg. He said they were determining whether it lifted and touched down in other areas, or whether damage at other parts of the county were due to high winds, not a tornado.
Lyle said that so far, he has identified 12 different properties that experienced damage, “seven what I would call severe.” He said he hoped to have more complete information Friday.
Among the severely-impacted properties were the Jolly Dairy Farm property on SR 136, with barns destroyed and a cow killed. On Cope Road near Greenfield, an older house was damaged and a garage was destroyed. Lyle said earlier that the tornado picked up a barn in the 1000 block of SR 771, spun it around and landed it against a house.
The Wilmington office of NWS issued a statement Thursday afternoon saying that the storm survey has so far determined that the tornado near Leesburg had “a path length of approximately 7 miles. Further details such as wind speed, path width, and EF rating have yet to be determined.”
Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.