published Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

Storm cuts power to thousands in Chattanooga area

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Skies across the Tennessee Valley darkened quickly Tuesday evening, ushering in a series of storms that ripped through the region, toppling trees and power lines.

The storms included dozens of downbursts — rushing gusts of wind that whipped across the area at 49 mph on Tuesday, according to WRCB-TV Channel 3 chief meteorologist Paul Barys.

“They come straight out of the sky, hit the ground, and then spread out,” said Barys.

Though the effect is the opposite of vacuumlike tornadoes, he said the damage still can be extensive.

He said it was fairly obvious to see where downbursts had hit — citing a span from Knoxville all the way into Walker County.

Dispatchers with the Chattanooga police said power lines and trees were leveled throughout the city.

EPB reported more than 14,000 customers without power as of Tuesday evening, and reported that crews may not get all the power back on until this afternoon.

North Georgia EMC reported that it was coping with only a hundred outages, though trees and lines were reported down throughout Dade, Walker and Whitfield counties.

Storm debris blocked roads in Meigs and Polk counties, while dispatchers with Rhea and Marion counties said they were still assessing how much damage was caused by fallen trees in their area.

Contact staff writer Kate Harrison at kharrison@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6673.

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