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National Weather Service Surveying Potential Tornado Damage, Power Outages Persist

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WKRECC

Update: TVA reports the Kentucky Hydro-Gilbertsville-Benton City-Murray 69KV line affecting the western Kentucky power outages was energized as of noon today. The total outage time was 7 hours and 35 minutes.

 

Roughly 13,000 west Kentuckians are still without power this morning following a line of strong storms the National Weather Service of Paducah (NWS) reports may have produced three tornadoes. 

NWS Meteorologist Michael York said storm survey teams dispatched to the Hazel area in Calloway County, an area northwest of Fulton and a third area in Hickman County extending from Oakton to just outside of Quinton. He said initial reports indicate three paths of destruction that, based on preliminary reports, were likely EF-1 tornadoes. 

 

York said the longest path of destruction reported was the one which extends from Oakton to near Quinton that he estimates is five miles. The worst reported damage, he said, was in Hazel. He also confirmed radars indicated rotation in those three areas this morning.

 

York said the majority of the damage was fallen trees, residences and buildings damaged from fallen trees and tree limbs, not from the wind itself. He also noted no injuries are reported so far. 

 

York said the surveyors will likely publish their findings later today or early tomorrow on the NWS Facebook page. He said the teams are small and travel time is a factor in their ability to process, produce and release findings. 

 

West Kentucky Rural Electric Cooperative Corporation (WKRECC) reported more than 11,000 without power initially and more than 10,000 remain without, most of those in Calloway and Graves counties. Benton Electric System reports its entire system is down, which impacts 2,500 customers. Both entities report the outages are the result of TVA’s (Tennessee Valley Authority) damaged transmission lines which provide the power they disperse to customers. 

 

Malinda Hunter with TVA Public/Media Relations confirmed the strong storms caused damage to high-voltage transmission lines feeding the local power companies, and crews are responding to the areas with damage to make repairs or reroute power. She said crews will also look into ways to create alternate lines so power can be restored while they repair the main lines. 

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Credit TVA
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TVA
Damage to a TVA transmission system which endured a possible lightning strike at the substation near Knoxville, Tennessee.

As of this morning, Hunter said, TVA is not able to provide an estimated timeline for restoration.

Benton Electric System (BES) spokesperson Leslie Taylor said the system was being fed from the Kentucky Dam transmission line, which received significant damage. She said BES linemen have already been out this morning to assess the potential damage and didn’t spot any. She said they believe as soon as power from TVA is restored, their entire system should be restored with maybe the exception of a few isolated incidents. 

 

Taylor noted as of approximately 11 a.m. today, this was the longest BES customers have been without power since the ice storm of 2009. 

 

“We just can’t control Mother Nature, and she wasn’t kind last night,” Taylor added.

 

Taylor said BES has been in constant contact with TVA throughout the morning, and noted TVA’s crews are working diligently to restore power as quickly as possible. She noted BES is providing regular updates via their Facebook page

 

WKRECC spokesperson Georgann Lookofsky said it’s difficult to estimate timelines for repairs because they’re not sure yet the scope of the damage. She said three substations were affected, which caused the three major points of outages: the east Murray substation which services east Calloway County, the Pilot Oak substation which serves southern Graves County and the Gilbertsville substation which serves the Kentucky Dam area.

 

She explained when the TVA transmission line is reinstated, several customers will likely immediately regain power; those who don’t will indicate damage to WKRECC’s service lines, and many of those won’t be identified until the power source is restored. 

 

Lookofsky said most of the damaged lines WKRECC is aware of in need of repair were broken by falling trees and tree limbs. She also noted the storm produced a significant amount of lightning, which can damage equipment on the poles and transformers. 

 

Lookofsky said Jackson Purchase Energy Cooperative in Paducah received very little damage, so they sent crews to assist WKRECC with repairs. She noted while the crews will work as quickly and diligently as possible to restore power, safety of the linemen is a priority as well.

 

Lookofsky said those who rely on power for medical devices should work to secure a secondary power mechanism. She also warned downed power lines could be a significant danger and those who live near them need to keep a close eye on children.

 

 Lookofsky said WKRECC will continue to post updates throughout the day on their Facebook page.

 

The story was updated at approximately 1 p.m. after reciving confirmation from TVA the power supply to both BES and WKRECC had been restored.

Rachel’s interest in journalism began early in life, reading newspapers while sitting in the laps of her grandparents. Those interactions ignited a thirst for language and stories, and she recalls getting caught more than once as a young girl hiding under the bed covers with a flashlight and book because she just couldn’t stop reading.
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