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Weather Service: Damage may top $100 million

Associated Press
May 11, 2014
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Hundreds of homes and businesses in southwestern Indiana were still without power Sunday following a powerful storm that caused more than $100 million in damage according to a National Weather Service estimate.

Vectren Energy Delivery estimated nearly 1,700 of its electric customers had no power Sunday afternoon, two days after the storm — deemed a macroburst — brought wind speeds of up to 120 mph.

Friday's storm damaged 100 structures, with dozens destroyed, and snapped or blew over hundreds of power poles, the weather service said. Damage to one farm was estimated at more than $2 million.

The city of Boonville, about 15 miles northeast of Evansville was still under a state of emergency Sunday.

Straight-line winds Friday afternoon ripped off a portion of the high school's roof. Though much of the damage was repaired Saturday, the school canceled Monday classes.

"Our campus is going to look a lot different," Boonville High School Principal Mike Whitten told the Evansville Courier & Press.

About 125 students were in the school's auditorium when the storm approached and staff ushered them into safer areas like bathrooms.

No injuries were reported from the storm.

More severe thunderstorms moved through southern Indiana on Sunday, but had not caused significant damage through late afternoon. The weather service reported the traffic control tower at Evansville Regional Airport was briefly evacuated after staff there recorded an 89 mph wind gust.

The weather service reported that a storm capable of producing a tornado was moving through Jasper County on Sunday night. It was dumping quarter-sized hail, but there were no immediate reports of significant damage.

Friday's storm lasted 32 minutes and struck an area 35 miles long and up to four miles wide, the National Weather Service said of the macroburst, which occurs when cooler air rushes downward out of a thunderstorm, hits the ground and rushes outward.

Wind speeds averaged 60 mph to 90 mph, with frequent peaks over 100 mph and one peak wind estimated at 120 mph, the weather service said.

Before the storm hit Boonville, it swept through Evansville, where three homes were destroyed and about 20 other homes and businesses damaged, Vanderburgh County Emergency Management Director Cliff Weaver said.

"Based on the level of damage ... it will take a couple of days if not a couple of weeks to clear all the debris," Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke told WTVW-TV. "We've seen amazing devastation in some places."

The winds ripped a garage and roof from a vacant home as neighbors watched.

"We were standing at our front door and the next thing we knew, the man's garage was in our front yard," Cheryl Koch told the Courier & Press.

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