Tornadoes missed Jackson County

The National Weather Service issued three tornado warnings Sunday for Jackson County.

At some point during the afternoon, a Facebook user posted a photo of a tornado contending it had touched down near the small community of Kurtz in northwestern Jackson County.

That photo drew at least 1,770 shares by other users including many from Jackson County. It’s unclear who initially posted the photograph, taken by James Edelson, a published freelance photographer based in San Francisco, over a year ago during a tornado chasing tour in Oklahoma.

No tornado, however, was confirmed in Jackson County although the National Weather Service has since confirmed tornadoes touched down in Salem in Washington County and Springfield in Lawrence County and two in Muncie.

During one of storms, Lt. Andy Wayman with the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department said the storms had blown down trees and limbs and power lines in the county but he knew of no tornadoes on the ground or any damage from tornadoes.

In this day and age, many people take to social media to express thoughts and share news quickly and sometimes determining what is real and what is not can be difficult, said Duane Davis, executive director of the Jackson County Emergency Management Agency.

“It’s a great tool when used appropriately, but it can be very misleading,” he said. “It shows you how powerful social media can be whether it is for the good or for the bad.”

Davis said he was able to determine the photo was not taken in Jackson County based on the certain features of the image including the color of the leaves.

“It just didn’t feel right to me,” he said. “You have to consider the source and what is an official site.”

Davis said if residents plan to use social media as a source of information, they should trust profiles administered by the emergency management, police departments or news organizations.

Jackson County Sheriff Mike Carothers said his department did not receive any calls reporting funnel clouds, but did receive calls from local residents reporting rotation in the sky.

Davis said local television stations often use enhanced Doppler radar to report possible tornadoes.

“They look at the velocity side of it where you get inbound winds and outbound winds and they begin circulating, which is the signature mark of a tornado,” he said. “It just means there are the elements of a tornado.”

Davis said residents should take cover when warnings are issued based off the Doppler radar system.

Carothers agreed.

“It means there is something going on and possibly a tornado, but residents should take cover every time a warning is issued,” he said. “Residents need to take every warning seriously for their safety and the safety of their families.”

On Sunday, three tornado warnings were issued by the National Weather Service, according to the county’s mass notification system, Everbridge. The first was issued at 1:48 p.m.; the second at 2:04 p.m.; and the third at 10:03 p.m.

Davis said he was unaware of damage in Jackson County that could have confirmed a tornado.

He added that only the National Weather Service can confirm a tornado touchdown based off damage.

Davis said representatives from the National Weather Service were in Lawrence County on Monday and contacted him to see if there was any damage to assess, but he declined.

“If I had seen anything or heard reports of damage like what we saw earlier this year, I would go with the National Weather Service and we will go look at it together,” Davis said, referring to the EF-1 tornado that hit the area in early March.

“We only had the typical downed trees and power outages with this storm,” he said of Sunday’s weather.

Davis said he believes Jackson County likely experienced funnel clouds during Sunday’s storm.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that somewhere in Kurtz there was a funnel cloud in the afternoon,” he said.

Author photo
Jordan Richart is a correspondent for The (Seymour) Tribune.