TORNADO, W.Va. — Kanawha County’s largest public golf course is going to be closed until at least next week as crews clean up significant damage caused by a microburst that hit the Tornado community Thursday evening.
The National Weather Service confirmed the microburst during a Friday morning inspection. Officials said damage indicates sustained winds of up to 75 mph.
Big Bend Golf Course was hit hard, according to Kanawha County Parks Executive Director Jeff Hutchinson.
“It just looks like toothpicks sticking out of the ground and a bunch of brush piles. It’s pretty rough,” Hutchinson said as he surveyed the damage Friday morning.
He estimated more than 100 pine trees were knocked down, many of them uprooted. Hutchinson said the most significant damage was on the back nine of the course.
“We have a lot more pines on the backside of the golf course in groupings. I mean, it’s just laid them low,” Hutchinson said.
Storm Damage Update: A survey team from our office has determined that a microburst impacted portions of Tornado, WV yesterday. Wind speeds were estimated to be 65 to 75 mph and resulted in numerous pine trees being uprooted along with minor structural wind damage. #wvwx pic.twitter.com/6AuUKQN11h
— NWS Charleston, WV (@NWSCharlestonWV) May 3, 2019
Hutchinson had already contacted the county’s insurance agent and was expecting an adjuster to visit later Friday. He said he’ll have to get some help to remove the trees and repair the damage. His goal is to get the front nine of the course open and playable sometime next week. He said it will take longer to restore the back nine to playing conditions.
“This is the worst time it could happen,” Hutchinson said. “If it happened in November we’d have all winter to clean it up but we’re staring the golf season right in the teeth.”
Hutchinson said there were a handful of players on the course when the storm moved through at around 6 p.m. Thursday
“They said it popped up quick. We didn’t have anybody hurt or anything. They said it happened in a 10-minute span of time,” Hutchinson said.
Kanawha County’s Coonskin Park sustained major damage as a result of the 2010 derecho. Hutchinson said it’s a smaller area but the damage is just as bad at Big Bend.
“It’s going to take a while to clean this up,” Hutchinson said.
There was apparently no permanent damage to the course’s water lines or sprinkler system. Part of a roof was blown off one of the course’s maintenance sheds.
According to the National Weather Service, a microburst is a localized column of sinking air (downdraft) within a thunderstorm and is usually less than or equal to 2.5 miles in diameter.