By Robert Medley
As chainsaws buzzed around him, the blade turning decades-old tree limbs into firewood in Yukon’s central district, John Daugherty said he is amazed the giant branch had not slammed into his car or worse, his house.
Daugherty, 33, an oilfield worker, was working in Texas Monday night when severe thunderstorms rolled into Yukon.
About 11 p.m., a sudden downward burst of wind snapped a main branch of the sycamore tree in his front yard near Fifth Street along Poplar Avenue.
“I actually wasn’t home to see it, just my wife and daughter were,” Daughtery said. “She told me it sounded like there was a lot of wind and the next thing she knew, she opened up a window and there was a tree branch leaning against it.”
He returned to Yukon with co-workers who helped clear the tree debris.
Trees, fences and structures were damaged in the neighborhood, and power was knocked out in the overnight storms.
“I think it must have been a small tornado to throw a 300-pound tree branch 60 feet,” Daugherty said.
All Yukon Fire Department apparatus responded Monday night as storm-related calls about downed power lines and trees came in.
Yukon’s first responders had a long night.
“We didn’t get a lot of sleep,” Yukon Fire Chief Shawn Vogt said. “I never like seeing flooding or wind damage like that.”
Police Chief John Corn said the damage is similar to that from a microburst of downward wind.
Corn said thunderstorms rolled in late Monday.
“We were going through a pretty significant electrical storm and we were experiencing a lot of straight line winds at that time. We started to get reports, 10 consecutive calls in 15 minutes, for fire assistance for trees that had been uprooted, buildings that had been damaged and trees that had fallen on vehicles.
“So we determined then the way the damage seemed to start at one point and go out instead of moving at a consistent fashion, that we might have experienced a ‘downburst’.”
Part of Yukon was without power during the night from Fifth Street and Main Street in a four-block area.
Also in Yukon, there was damage to utility poles near Ranchwood and State Highway 66.
At Cornwell and Spruce avenues, wind knocked down a section of the stockade, wooden fence at the home of Hayli Hanes. Her dog Beau got out and was missing for more than 12 hours. But a neighbor found the pet and Beau went home Tuesday evening. The fence was repaired.
Meanwhile, Daugherty said he did not know how old the sycamore tree is that partially remains in his yard. He said it is probably 80 years to 100 years old. He said he can only get his arms around half of the trunk.
“There is another part of it that is way across the street over there,” Daugherty said, pointing down Poplar Avenue.
His wife and 2-year-old daughter were safe in the storm, he said.
“I’m very thankful that nobody was hurt and there is no damage to the property. Everybody is driving by taking pictures saying, ‘Man this is terrible!’ And I say we got really lucky. I mean usually when you have something that can do this kind of damage to trees this size people are going to wind up hurt. So the fact that we have no injuries out of this is pretty amazing,” Daugherty said.
No injuries were reported from storm damage. Downed trees and limbs damaged roofs, homes and vehicles in the central Yukon area.
John Pike, meteorologist at the National Weather Service, said a severe thunderstorm warning was issued Monday night for the Yukon area. Damaging straight line winds are always possible in such storms. Pike could not confirm whether there had been a microburst of damaging wind.
“Whether it is straight line winds or a microburst, that all falls under a severe thunderstorm warning,” Pike said.
Senior Staff Writer Conrad Dudderar contributed to this report.