KENTUCKY — A strong storm system brought severe thunderstorms and potential tornadoes through much of central Kentucky on Thursday morning.
Once the worst of the storms had passed, National Weather Service survey crews said preliminary reports indicate an EF-1 tornado with 100 mph winds hit West Harrodsburg in Mercer County. Surveys were still ongoing in the area as of Thursday afternoon, the NWS said.
“You see debris going to the north, east, and southeasterly direction, there were a few two-by-fours embedded into the ground, lot of glass, some roof siding,” John Gordon with the National Weather Service office in Louisville said after surveying damage. "Most structural damage is at this house right here. Thankfully everyone is OK.”
Two homes were significantly damaged west of Harrodsburg and a neighboring barn was also destroyed.
Rheana Dean was home with her young son when the tornado hit one of those houses. Dean got a notification on her phone, saying she was in the path of a storm capable of producing a tornado. At that moment, she took action.
“I went ahead and went into the bathroom and got blankets and pillows and stuff and went ahead and put my son in the tub and got out dogs situated in there too and then when I felt the house shake I jumped into the tub with the dog and him,” Dean said.
The tornado blew out some of the home's windows and ripped a hole in the roof of her daughter's room, who was not home at the time.
"Little shaken up, little scared, still overwhelmed but very grateful,” Dean said.
Thursday, National Weather Service damage surveys in Boyle and Henry counties found an EF-1 tornado touched town there as well.
A future survey of Madison County is also scheduled.
Children were evacuated due to tornado at Wilderness Trace Family YMCA on the 130 block of North College Street in Harrodsburg, local outlets reported. In Breckenridge County, the NWS reported "significant damage" to Ben Johnson Elementary School, with the roof reportedly gone at the gym. Several other businesses in that general area have sustained damage.
The NWS started issuing Severe Thunderstorm and Tornado Warnings early Thursday morning. The storm cell traveled through central Kentucky, just south of Louisville, and passed through areas just south of Lexington after 9 a.m.
Around 10 a.m., over 5,000 power outages were reported in Mercer County, where roughly 13,000 customers are tracked, according to poweroutage.us.