Extensive storm damage to a cemetery and an athletic field in Edinburgh was caused by a microburst, not a tornado, the National Weather Service said.
Half of the bleachers on the south side of the Edinburgh Community High School athletics field were picked up, twisted and dropped upside down during the thunderstorm on Tuesday evening, said Stephanie Sichting, Johnson County Emergency Management director.
At Rest Haven Cemetery near U.S. 31, high winds uprooted or damaged nearly 70 trees, Edinburgh Police Chief David Mann said.
“We have trees lying in different directions that some might say was caused by a circular wind,” Mann said.
Residents seem convinced the town was hit by a tornado about 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Mann said.
But Sichting said that she received confirmation from the National Weather Service that the damage was the result of an intense, localized downdraft of air that spreads on the ground, causing rapid changes in wind direction and speed during a thunderstorm.
Fallen trees and limbs brought down power lines in multiple areas, but electricity had been repaired to all but one residence by midmorning Wednesday.
The damage was reported in a narrow area bordered by the cemetery to the south, U.S. 31 to the west, State Road 252 to the north, and South Main Street to the east, Sichting said.
“That’s the first time I’ve seen so much localized damage in one area,” Sichting said. “It’s almost like two systems went through, and everything in between got caught.”
A roof was blown off a garage on Memorial Drive and a tree fell on a vehicle on High School Drive.
No serious injuries were reported, Mann said.
The destroyed bleachers will not be an inconvenience for upcoming events, Edinburgh Community High School athletics director David Walden said. The bleachers will be needed next when the football season opens in August, Walden said.
Residents, as well as utility and emergency crews, worked quickly and efficiently to reopen roads and restore power after the storm, Sichting said.
“They did a phenomenal job,” Sichting said. “That town never asks for any help. They just get out and do it.”