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UPDATE: Weather service details Watertown tornado

Xavier Smith • Mar 2, 2017 at 1:58 PM

The National Weather Service determined Watertown was one of five locations hit by a tornado Wednesday morning as the agency released its preliminary survey results from the storm.

According to the agency, a high-end EF-1 tornado touched down just west of Watertown at around 7:40 a.m. and moved northeast across the northern portion of town. The agency reported winds up to 110 mph and the path’s distance of about six miles.

The 300-yard-wide tornado was on the ground for about seven minutes and caused the most significant damage to a home on South Commerce Road. The home’s garage, which was reportedly not appropriately attached to the foundation, sustained the most damage.

In addition, the winds snapped two Tennessee Valley Authority high-transmission wooden power poles. Several other homes sustained minor roof and tree damage, and one greenhouse was destroyed, according to the National Weather Service.

Meteorologists reported a large swath of 75-80-mph straight-line winds observed south of the tornado track along Highway 70, which they believe were rear flank downdrift winds from the storm.

Watertown Mayor Mike Jennings detailed Wednesday morning’s storm as he learned about the destruction during Thursday’s Wilson County Joint Economic and Community Development Board meeting.

Jennnings said he made his way to Watertown City Hall on Wednesday morning when city employees informed him the building was without power. Jennings said he was on his way to Lebanon to work when he received a call from emergency personnel informing him of some destruction that was discovered.

Jennings said although the storm caused some significant damage in some areas, the town was blessed with no deaths and no injuries.

He also detailed the story of Watertown sanitation worker Shannon Ervin who was at a convenience center on South Commerce Road as the tornado approached.

“Her husband called her and told her it was getting pretty bad, and she needed to get out of there,” Jennings said.

Ervin jumped in her truck just moments before the tornado lifted a shed at the convenience store and pushed it to the end of the lot.

“I’m glad she listened to him, because he just might have saved her life,” Jennings said.

The National Weather Service preliminary report also showed two other EF-1 tornados in Williamson County just northwest of Franklin and in southeastern Davidson County and western Rutherford County.  

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