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EF-1 tornado strikes Crestwood

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By Andrew Henderson

A tornado touched down in Oldham County near Crestwood during the early hours of April 12, according to the National Weather Service.

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The tornado touched down at 6:45 a.m. and had an estimated peak wind of 100 miles per hour and mostly damaged the upper halves of trees; however, there were a few spots where the tornado fully touched down causing more widespread damage.

The length of the tornado’s path was slightly over eight miles, spreading from Georgie Way in Crestwood to near Orchard Grass Blvd. in Orchard Grass Hills. The width of the tornado was 300 yards and it lasted less than 10 minutes.

Oldham County Emergency Management Director Jerry Nauert previously told the Era high winds accounted for much of the damage, causing trees to be uprooted and in some instances snapping.

Nauert said he coordinated with the weather service in relaying information and observations from around the area.

The weather service had initially placed the county under a severe thunderstorm warning on April 12, warning of winds up to 60 mph and potential hail.

However, the weather service didn’t issue a tornado warning, which was why emergency sirens in the county didn’t activate.

“The sirens didn’t go off because we didn’t receive information from them [the weather service],” Nauert said.

Nauert said given the tornado’s sudden appearance it may not have appeared on the weather service’s radars in time for a warning to be issued.

The high winds also left thousands without power. Around 11:30 a.m. on April 12 there were an estimated 1,535 customers without power, according to LG&E’s power outage map.

Those without power also included the Oldham County Board of Education central office in Crestwood and the south campus of Oldham County schools, which included: South Oldham High School, South Oldham Middle School, Camden Station Elementary and Kenwood Station Elementary.

The schools were without power for several hours on Friday. Oldham County Schools Communication Director Lori McDowell told the Era around 1:40 p.m that power had been restored to south campus.

Several Crestwood businesses also reported being affected by the tornado and high winds, and also without power.

Yew Dell Botanical Gardens posted on Facebook that several large trees in the arboretum, and other areas on the property, were downed. They also posted they lost “the big pine,” which was the oldest tree on Yew Dell’s property.

Yew Dell Marketing & Events Director Jackie Gulbe said the big pine tree was over 100 years old. She said the tree had been struck by lightning a few times and the tornado was the last straw for it.

“Everybody had a soft spot in their heart for that tree,” Gulbe said.

Yew Dell started cleaning up limbs immediately, but Gulbe said there was much more to be done. She said this was the first time she’s seen damage to this extent at Yew Dell.

None of the buildings at Yew Dell were affected, and the cleanup process won’t change any of Yew Dell’s planned events.

While the damage was mostly relegated to trees and utility poles, there were some homes affected as well.

According to a survey summary from the weather service, there were multiple trees along Sunset Lane that were snapped and/or uprooted with debris wrapping around to the backside of a house.

There was also a house along Shelburn Drive where a front porch with four columns was lifted up, collapsing the columns and picking up the front half of the roof and sending it about 100 yards away.

Along Fox Trail Drive and Moody Lane there was a tall house where a gutter was ripped off and blown away. The tornado also caused a tree to fall onto a house on Wiano Drive.

The most recent tornado that touched down in Oldham County was in May 2017 in Goshen.

During that tornado, winds reached up to 95 mph. Two church buildings, the Creasey Mahan Nature Preserve, North Oldham High School and some homes sustained damage from that storm.

Last Friday’s tornado is the 13th recorded tornado in Oldham County since 1925, according to the weather service. Five of the previously recorded tornadoes have occurred since 2011.