Live the Dream STAT: The brief local history of tornadoes
May 10, 2011, 9:30pm
3 - The number of tornadoes recorded in the High Country since 1950, according to the Tornado Project.
Tornadoes have unfortunately been in the news a lot lately. Eastern North Carolina suffered through several last month. Alabama is just now recovering from a deadly series there. It's assumed a tornado could never touch down in the High Country area. It's said mountains and wind funnels don't mix. But in fact, they occasional - though rarely - do.
Twice since 1996 a tornado has been recorded in Watauga County. The earliest occurred April 20 of that year around noon. It was classified as a F0, with winds 40-70 mph. It touched down off 321 between Boone and Blowing Rock and injured two people. The next happened just over two years later, June 3, 1998, near the Tennessee state line in the Beaver Dam area. The F1 (73-112 mph) was seen around 6:17 that evening.
You have to go back to 1965 for the third tornado, recorded April 9 at 2:45 a.m. It was a F2 (113-157 mph) and landed between Banner Elk and Elk Park near Highway 194 in Avery County. One injury was reported.
History aside, it is not uncommon for the High Country to be under a tornado watch, which is a warning that conditions exist for one to form. The area sees occasional warm weather hail and thunderstorms, but thankfully rare tornadoes.