The storms that went through Elkhart around midnight Wednesday night were not a tornado. The National Weather Service says heavy tree damage and power outages was likely caused by straight line winds.
An NWS Meteorologist says soil saturated by above-average rainfall this spring may have contributed to the trees that were uprooted by the storms.
Steve Hart was working to clear branches out of his driveway and yard. But his big problem was an uprooted hundred-year-old walnut tree in his backyard.
“It’s the power of the wind that can uproot a tree of this size with the root structure it’s got is so amazing. Some of those roots are six, eight inches and it just took it over like it’s nothing.”
Becky Dodson was outside collecting tree branches in her yard on Riverview Avenue.
“We had been sitting on the back deck enjoying the weather. Then the lightning started and we were hearing the thunder and it started to rain and we came inside and it just let loose.”
Some residents reported heavy rains and hail along with the strong winds.
Peggy Eppert had a tree in her yard on Parker Avenue take out the corner of her house.
“And I no sooner stepped out of the bedroom and this thing came down. And I don’t even know if it was raining out at the time but I know the lightning had been acting up.”
The heaviest damage is in a residential area east of Goshen Avenue and south Jackson Boulevard.
Dale McDowell lives in the area. He was out surveying the branch that landed in his front yard, as well as the damage across his neighborhood.
“It’s an inconvenience but nothings damaged so we’re lucky. You know, there’s a tree down and the neighbor over here, he’s got his garage roof has got a big tree on it and of course Jackson’s closed all the way downtown so there’s a lot of people worse off.”
There were street closures on Jackson, Princeton and Greenleaf Boulevards as well as smaller surrounding streets. As power lines and trees are cleaned up those roads will be reopened.
About 8,000 people lost power initially. I&M says power restoration will come in phases and all customers should have power restored by 11 p.m. on Thursday.