Crews from Plateau Electric Cooperative, 7th District Volunteer Fire Department and the Tennessee Department of Transportation work to remove downed trees and power lines from S.R. 297 in the Leatherwood community Sunday evening. (Independent Herald photo/Melanie Garrett)
Crews from Plateau Electric Cooperative, 7th District Volunteer Fire Department and the Tennessee Department of Transportation work to remove downed trees and power lines from S.R. 297 in the Leatherwood community Sunday evening. (Independent Herald photo/Melanie Garrett)

A hard-hitting thunderstorm caused moderate damage in Scott County Sunday evening, as part of an unusual mid-summer outbreak of severe weather that brought tornadoes to parts of Tennessee.

The supercell thunderstorm moved across Scott County from the northwest, first impacting Oneida and then  Huntsville as the National Weather Service hoisted tornado warnings — due to elevated rotation indicated by radar — across the area.

From preliminary reports, it was not believed that the storm produced a tornado. However, severe winds accompanied the storm, resulting in numerous downed trees and power lines across Scott County.

Plateau Electric Cooperative crews worked well into the night Sunday to restore power to areas impacted by the storms — primarily in the Huntsville and West Oneida areas.

In Huntsville, significant damage to trees and lines was reported in the area near South Fork Apartments along S.R. 63 and also in the area of Huntsville Hill Road.

In West Oneida, damage to trees and lines was reported along S.R. 297 in the Leatherwood area.

Both S.R. 297 and Huntsville Hill Road were closed for periods of time Sunday as crews worked to clean up the mess and clear the roadway of downed power lines.

The storm was the second supercell to impact Scott County Sunday. The first produced a tornado warning for the Winfield area. It also did not produce an actual tornado, though it did result in downed trees and large hail.

A third supercell resulted in somewhat lesser damage and produced another tornado warning in southern Scott County.

In all, five tornado warnings were issued for parts of Scott County as the line of storms progressed through the area Sunday — believed to be a record. While severe thunderstorms are not uncommon during the summer months, organized severe weather is often limited to the spring and fall months.  Meteorologists blamed an unusually strong influx of cold air from Canada for the unusual weather. That same air mass was expected to result in below-average temperatures throughout this week.

As dusk fell Sunday evening, it appeared that mother nature spared Scott County the worst of her fury. In Claiborne County, 10 homes — including the home of the county sheriff — were completely destroyed by a tornado.

The National Weather Service was to have surveyed the impacted area on Monday to determine the strength of that tornado.

Additional tornado reports were received further east in Tennessee — in Hawkins, Sullivan and Washington counties.

Meteorologists had warned of possible tornadoes early in the day Sunday. Ironically, though, the brunt of the severe weather was expected to be in eastern Kentucky. There, no tornadoes were reported.

Crews from Plateau Electric Cooperative and Highland Telephone Cooperative worked well into the night Sunday to restore service in impacted areas. Several local fire departments deployed crews to help reopen roadways, as did the Scott County Rescue Squad.

Aside from damage to trees and utility lines, no major damages were reported locally. There was minor damage to vehicles and homes — mostly due to fallen trees — in several areas.