By MARINA WATERS
Washington County residents had plenty of excitement this weekend as thunderstorms and bursts of hail rolled through the area on Saturday.
Homes, buildings and cars took the brunt of the hail damage in Washington County, leaving many with beat up vinyl siding, damaged roofs and numerous car hood dents.
Jonesborough’s Farm Bureau Agency Manager Kevin Broyles said he hasn’t seen this many insurance claim phone calls in the last 11 years.
“It’s all we can do to keep our phones answered right now,” Broyles said. “I’ve been here for 19 years. The last storm that passed through with this significance, from an insurance standpoint, was probably when the tornadoes came through on April 27, 2011 … That’s how bad that storm was. This is the closest to that day we’ve had.”
Most of the damage occurred around midday on Saturday in Jonesborough, but the threat of thunderstorms, hail, flooding and possibly a tornado across Tennessee was on the minds of meteorologists like Derek Eisentrout with the National Weather Service in Morristown early last week.
“This entire event really went over a several-day period starting last Thursday and culminating and finishing up (on Sunday),” Eisentrout said. “At the onset, it was more of a possibility of a (tornado) threat towards the Chattanooga area in Southeast Tennessee. The threat towards the Tri-Cities area was hail and winds.”
For Taylor Momberger, a Jonesborough resident who lives off of Old Embreeville Road, the hail damage to her roof, window screens, siding and her husband’s truck started just before noon on Saturday and has now left her assessing the damage and looking for repairs this week.
“I was sitting in front of one of our living room windows,” Momberger said. “I looked outside to see what the weather was doing, because I knew some weather was coming, and I saw one of the first massive balls of hail fall down. It was one of the biggest I’ve seen … Then all the sudden it just let loose.”
Those who suffered home and auto damage from the storm, Broyles said, are encouraged to start by assessing damage, make any possible small repairs and get on those often-lengthy contractor lists as soon as possible.
“(Getting on a contractor’s list) is probably the most important thing,” Broyles said. “Most of the contractors were behind before Saturday hit. Now you throw in an additional several-hundred homes in Washington County that need repairs — finding the contractors and the people to do that work is probably going to be the most difficult part of this whole storm.”
There aren’t any upcoming storms on the radar just yet, but it’s not rare to see strong storms throughout March, April and May, Eisentrout said.
“I’d say it’s fairly uncommon,” Eisentrout said referring to how often storms like Saturday’s roll through the area. “Not every year are you going to have this amount of rainfall. You’re going to have severe weather events, hail, wind damage, and you’re going to have that multiple times in your spring months. We just know that March, April and May, are more of a time for an active weather pattern for the Southern Appalachian region.”
Though no hail is predicted in this week’s forecast, Eisentrout said Jonesborough and Washington County can expect more unpredictable weather with rain on Wednesday with a cold spurt following on Thursday and Friday.
“We are actually going to get back into some precipitation again getting up to an inch of rain into Wednesday,” Eisentrout said. “So if there are some low-lying, flood-prone areas where you have some water still standing from this weekend’s event, and if that doesn’t diminish, that can just be exacerbated by the rain we get on Wednesday.
“We’re not looking at anything severe at this point, but afterwards, we are going to get colder air moving in so Friday morning we will have temperatures below freezing on Friday. That’s the wild ride of spring. It’s a transition season.”
For more info on the National Weather Service in Morristown, go to https://www.weather.gov/morristown/. For more information on the local Farm Bureau, go to https://www.fbitn.com/tn/washington-county/jonesborough/washington-jonesborough-agency.