Photos: 5 confirmed tornadoes rip through Jefferson County


by Johnny Archer

Posted on June 23, 2011 at 10:29 AM

Updated Monday, Jun 27 at 11:20 AM

WHAS11 News has been sent hundreds of viewer photos and videos of the storm. You can see the photos in our weather photo gallery.

 LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS)-The National Weather Service confirmed that five tornadoes touched down in the Louisville area Wednesday night.  One hit the area around Churchill Downs, which the weather service rated as and EF-1 with wind speeds at 100-105 MPH.  The tornado strengthened to an EF-2 reaching winds speeds at 120 MPH.  Five Barns at the race track had large sections of their roofs blown off, and cinder block walls collapsed.

Near the intersection of Floyd St. and Central Ave., several electrical poles were knocked over and an industrial building was heavily damaged, but no damage was found at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. You can see photos of the damage here.

The weather service also confirmed three tornadoes hit Jeffersontown, where many residents and the city were cleaning up the aftermath Thursday from an EF-0 tornado.   “It was so quick,” said Brenda Austin, who lives on St. Edwards Dr. in Jeffersontown.  “I heard the noise and the garbage cans were spinning.”

The weather service has confirmed a fifth tornado that touched down in Harrison County, Ind. The EF-0 tornado touched down southeast of New Middletown. The tornado had reported winds of 70-75 mph that damaged trees.

After the tornadoes, tree limbs and debris was left scattered in neighborhoods; cars and homes were damaged.  Some residents in Jeffersontown were shocked to find all the damage from what they thought was a short storm.  “I was watching TV,” said Steve Parrish, who also lives on St. Edwards Dr.  “And then they said it looks bad and about a minute after, boom.”

Parrish describes the impact of the tornado in his neighborhood, but the National Weather Service questions how the tornadoes formed, saying usually tornadoes are produced in storms that have higher levels of lightning.

“It was really sort of a surprise because these were relatively weak storms,” says Joe Sullivan with the National Weather Service.  “There was not even any thunder.”

The national weather service says by evaluating Wednesday’s tornados, it will help them issue more accurate tornado warnings in the future.

Nearly 100 workers that live in the barns on the backside of Churchill Downs and 100 horses were displaced due to the roofs being ripped of off the buildings.  No injuries have been reported for people or animals. 

The horses have been moved to stables at the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center.  The American Red Cross is helping displaced workers.

"We've never had damage at the track quite like this. It surprised everybody in this community," John Asher, Churchill Downs, said.

Racing has been canceled Thursday and is expected to resume Friday.

 WHAS11 News has been sent hundreds of viewer photos and videos. You can see the photos in our weather photo gallery.

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