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Severe winds knock down trees, power lines

A homeowner at 4165 Luther Road in Bartlett is assessing the damage to his home. A massive tree limb fell during the weekend's windstorm.

A homeowner at 4165 Luther Road in Bartlett is assessing the damage to his home. A massive tree limb fell during the weekend’s windstorm.

Late on Saturday and early Sunday, high winds damaged trees and the power infrastructure in a wide swath through the Mid-South. The affected area spanned more than 240 miles and four states, according to Memphis Light Gas and Water.

The storms had a widespread path of 65- to 80 mph winds, and there was an area hit by a microburst of winds estimated at 95-105 mph near the intersection of Highway 51 and North Watkins in Frayser.

Bartlett wasn’t as hard hit as Memphis neighborhoods, with calls to just six locations to repair storm damage, according to Bill Yearwood, Bartlett’s director of public works. Three big trees fell across roads amid a tangle of power lines in these locations: On Old Brownsville Road east of Shadowlawn, on Billy Maher Road north of Memphis Arlington Road and on Elmore Road at Kenwood Lane.

He said there were a few smaller trees that also fell but were quicker to remove at Ellendale and Fiske roads, Memphis Arlington Road and Gailyn Lane, and on Devine Street. As is common in heavy winds, several owners of Bradford pear trees are also mourning the loss of these beautiful but fragile trees today too.

Bartlett briefly lost power to a couple of sewer lift stations, but Public Works personnel quickly took generators to those locations to maintain service.

Information on storm damages in Arlington and Lakeland wasn’t immediately available at press time; see bartlett-express.com for updates.

The storm took down so many power lines it was the third largest outage in Memphis history with as many as 188,000 people losing electricity. As of 5 a.m. Monday, MLGW had restored power to all but 61,000 of those and was predicting that full restoration will take more than a week.

In addition to MLGW crews who are working 24/7, the utility has an additional 70 crews from East Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina and Ohio making repairs.

The National Weather Service described what Mid-South residents might call “the perfect windstorm”: A very humid and unstable air mass was in place over the region during the day on Saturday, but the atmosphere remained capped for much of the day, keeping the atmospheric energy bottled up. Around 9 p.m., a line of thunderstorms entered Randolph County, Ark., from the northwest. The line of storms quickly pushed southeast around 60 to 70 mph. As it passed Corning Airport at 9:15 p.m., a 68 mph gust was recorded at the Automated Weather Observing System (AWOS).

From there, the bow echo (shape of the radar signature) continued southeastward at 60-70 mph. Widespread damage began in Walnut Ridge, Ark., and then into Jonesboro, Ark.,, causing a roof to be blown off a large metal shop. The line of storms continued to pack a punch as it moved into Memphis. At the Memphis Airport, a 61 mph wind gust was recorded at 11:12 p.m. Damage continued roughly along the I-22 corridor out of Memphis and into Mississippi, through Olive Branch, Holly Springs, New Albany, and Fulton.

No deaths were reported, with only two people reporting injuries. The storm exited Monroe County, Miss., around 2 a.m. Sunday.

MLGW has been urging customers to report outages by calling (800) 268-8648 or (901) 544-6500. While crews are working on restoring major circuits, more localized outages may go temporarily undetected.

See the path of the storm in a National Weather Service map online.

Reports from the National Weather Service and MLGW contributed to this story.


CAROLYN BAHM is the editor of The Bartlett Express. Contact her at (901) 433-9138 or via email to carolyn.bahm@journalinc.com.

Homeowners were lucky that this old tree at the intersection of Old Brownsville and Memphis Arlington roads fell in the other direction away from the house. Others in the Mid-South weren't so fortunate.

Homeowners were lucky that this old tree at the intersection of Old Brownsville and Memphis Arlington roads fell in the other direction away from the house. Others in the Mid-South weren’t so fortunate.

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