Downdraft causes damage in Beaver

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While much of the county was suffering from drought and under a burn ban, a severe thunderstorm known as a “microburst” hit Beaver and surrounding areas the evening of Thursday, July 5, causing tornado-like damages.

“The National Weather Service (NWS) says that was a microburst,” said Holiday Island Fire Chief Bob Clave. “That’s the official title. They are not calling it a tornado. There was a house in Beaver a tree fell on, but just trees down on Holiday Island. There were no structures involved or injuries at Holiday Island. Of course, I’d like to see a little rain because we have a burn ban on, but we don’t wish to see that kind of damage associated with it.”

NWS says a microburst is a localized column of sinking air (downdraft) within a thunderstorm.

“Microbursts can cause extensive damage at the surface, and in some instances, can be life-threatening,” according to the NWS website. “There are two primary types of microbursts: 1) wet microbursts and 2) dry microbursts. Wet microbursts are accompanied by significant precipitation and are common in the Southeast during the summer months.”

Matt Carter, a lieutenant with the Holiday Island Fire Department, said they responded initially Thursday night because lightning hit a tree at the Farm, an outdoor event center west of Beaver. The lightning hit when people had gathered getting ready for a two-day music festival called Spaceberry on July 6 and 7. Carter said when they responded to the lightning hit, they realized there were trees down on Holiday Island Drive. So, the fire department worked on clearing the road.

Don Kitz, who lives in Beaver, was at home when the storm hit.

“First we heard thunder in the distance and when it got closer, the wind,” Kitz said. “There was a lot of hail followed by some of the most heavy rain I’ve ever seen, followed by a crashing noise. I was just about to go to bed. It was around 10 p.m. The next day I found out a woman neighbor’s car windshield was damaged and she couldn’t live in her house currently because the power was out and they will have to do all new wiring. There was also a tree on top of her house.”

Kitz said another nearby neighbor had a car crushed, and there was some damage at Rogues Manor Castle and a tree down near the bridge near Elk Ranch.

“I think it was straight wind,” said Kitz, whose home required repairs to a hole in the roof. “It came from the east instead of the west. It was very freaky.”

Penny Sullivan, who also lives in Beaver, was amazed at the strength of the storm.

“My solid steel chimney cap that weighs about 250 pounds was lifted up and twisted loose with such force it bent three of the anchors and I still haven’t found the fourth one,” Sullivan said. “The storm tossed the chimney cap about my new metal roof, so four or five panels will have to be replaced. It took off about 40 feet of the top of my hard maple, which fell across Highway 187. EMS cut it up and got it off.

“A three-trunk large tree fell on Palisade Street, right behind me, and two limbs crashed down on a neighbor’s roof. Another tree limb went down on my neighbor’s car. I was not home, but was told people were out all over Beaver clearing trees off roads that were still being cleared today (Monday, July 9). Lots of trees down, tons of limbs.”

Weazl Gazel, a local contractor helping Sullivan, said it looked like the wind snapped trees off up high and didn’t do as much damage to smaller trees.

“The road that goes by the Post Office had a really large tree down that was sheared in half,” Gazel said. “It was in the road.”

Ilene Powell said there were a lot of trees down on the White River, some due to the storm and others from erosion caused by speeding boats.

Al Larson, a local contractor, said there were some heavy straight-line winds Tuesday, July 3, near where he was working in Hillspeak. A lot of limbs were knocked down, and he suspected one big billboard at the Hillspeak Turnoff may have come down in the storm. That day parts of Eureka Springs got about a half-inch of rain while most of the country remained dry.

Some residents of southern Carroll County didn’t see any rain in July. Organic farmer Larry Lowman said Tuesday, July 10, will be “day sixty-seven here at my farm without significant precipitation.

“It is getting pretty grim and definitely disheartening and wearying,” Lowman said. “It’s a crisis mode every day in the garden.”

The Fourth of July Fire on the Mountain fireworks display for Berryville was cancelled because of the extremely dry weather.