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Apparent tornado hits downtown Hopkinsville

Debris is scattered across the intersection of Ninth and Campbell streets.
Jennifer Brown
The Hoptown Chronicle
Debris is scattered across the intersection of Ninth and Campbell streets.

A tornado touched down Saturday morning on the east side of downtown Hopkinsville, ripping the roof and gas pumps from the Marathon station at Ninth and Campbell streets, said Christian County Emergency Manager Randy Graham.

No injuries were reported but several homes and businesses along the path, from about 18th Street to Fourth Street, sustained heavy damages, and power was out in the downtown district.

“There is a tremendous amount of damage,” Graham told Hoptown Chronicle.

By 11 a.m., emergency workers were beginning to block numerous streets downtown to keep vehicles out of the area.

Most of the gas station’s roof was hurled into Virginia Park. Sheet metal and lumber littered Ninth Street from Campbell to Walnut streets.

At least one witness reported seeing a tornado, said Graham. However, the city was not under a tornado watch or warning at the time.

Local officials set off the storm alert sirens immediately after the first report of a tornado, and Graham said he called the National Weather Service at Paducah. (It typically takes a few days after a weather event before the NWS officially declares that a storm produced a tornado.)

“It looks like it formed and dropped down quickly, said Graham.

The properties with the most serious damage included Southern States at 13th and Clay streets, the Elk Brand manufacturing plant at 10th and Campbell, the Marathon station, and Family Dollar on Ninth Street. The roof was ripped from a house on Seventh Street. Mount Olive Baptist Church on Fourth Street had part of its roof blown away.

“Several homes were damaged and we have a couple of homes with the roof gone,” said Graham.

A flood warning is in effect for Christian and Todd counties until 8 a.m. Sunday. A flood warning means flooding is imminent or occurring.

“Saturated soils and drainage from rainfall Friday night and Saturday will keep streams, creeks, and ditches near bank-full for some time. Low-lying areas will likely remain inundated through Saturday night in these areas,” the warning from the NWS office at Paducah states.

As of 3:35 p.m. Saturday, Hopkinsville had received 2.78 inches of rain since midnight, according to the Christian County Mesonet weather station. Little River was near its banks in the Givens Addition subdivision.

Temperatures will drop overnight to the mid-30s, and the high Sunday will be 38 degrees, according to the NWS forecast. There is a chance of snow and freezing rain Sunday afternoon and evening, but little accumulation is expected.

A downed tree was blocking 16th Street near the old Lone Oak house.

There did not appear to be any serious damage along Main Street in the business district.

Gov. Andy Beshear declared a Stateof Emergency after the severe weather system generated heavy rain, thunderstorms, tornadoes, hail and strong straight-line winds across much of Western, Eastern and South Central Kentucky. Another possible tornado touchdown was reported in Taylor County.

“It is devastating that we are once again experiencing severe weather just weeks after the deadly tornadoes hit Western Kentucky. Sadly, some counties have been affected by both of these events,” Beshear said in a news release. “We will continue to monitor the weather and provide needed updates. Everyone be aware, stay safe and seek shelter when advised.”

This story was originally published by the Hoptown Chronicle, a nonprofit newsroom covering Hopkinsville, Kentucky.

Jennifer P. Brown is the founder and editor of Hoptown Chronicle.
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