National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Post Storm Survey, Saturday, April 20, 1996

I was accompanied by Mr. Earl King on the storm survey. Our track was westward from Bell Buckle, TN to Barnesville, TN, which would be about 60 air miles. At Bell Buckle, uprooted trees were noted, and it appeared to be straight line winds. We headed south on route 269. At Fairfield, which is 1.5 miles south of Bell Buckle, there were more uprooted trees. We talked to Mr. Vincent Hawkins, a dairy farmer, who had a piece of tin roof stripped off his barn. He did not see any tornado, nor did he see any hail. He said the storm struck at 745 AM CDT. His brother, Mr. Mark Hawkins, [owns] an adjacent farm about ½ mile south on Route 269. He sustained a bit more damage. He lost the steel roof to his large barn, which he estimated...damage [of] $100K. He lost the roof to a smaller and more typical barn; his estimate of damage [was] about $20K. Mr. Mark Hawkins did not see any tornado, but he did get pea size hail. It appeared that straight line winds did the damage at the 2 dairy farms.

At Wartrace, no damage was observed. We headed west on Route 64 into Marshall County. At the Marshall County border, or 3 miles west of Farmington, big tree limbs were down. We headed south on U.S. Route 31A, and about 4 miles north of Lewisburg in Marshall County, there was a large tree down in a yard.

There were eyewitness accounts of the tornado at Barnesville, Summertown, and Cornersville areas. I believe a tornado also struck Waco, in northern Giles County, based on the damage. This storm complex moved northwest to southeast, and Barnesville [and] Cornersville are about 33 miles apart. An eyewitness at Summertown also gave the movement of the tornado from northwest to southeast. Once this storm moved east of Cornersville, it produced straight line winds toward Bell Buckle.

Cornersville was the hardest hit. It appeared the tornado came down 1.5 miles northwest of the junction of U.S. Route 31A and Coleman Rd. or 1.3 miles southwest of Cornersville. It struck a mobile home park totally destroying 7 mobile homes and damaging 10 other mobile homes. [Seven] were injured, one critically. He had to be flown to Vanderbilt Medical Center. [Two] high tension transmission towers were bent in half. Telephone poles were snapped. It was an F2 tornado, length 1.5 miles and width about ¼ mile. Mr. Bill Holland spotted the tornado at 715 AM CDT. Mr. Bobby Isley, who works at the local E.M.A. office, also saw the tornado at 710 AM CDT. The tornado damage ends near the junction of Coleman Rd. and U.S. Route 31A.

We headed west on Rt. 129 to Waco, in Giles County, or 1.4 miles west of Lynnville. A brick structure built in 1925, [which] was used as a store, lost its roof and most of its walls. A mobile home was leveled across the street. No other structures nearby received damage, but due to the isolation of the damage and the intensity, I believe it was an F2 tornado.

Just south of Summertown, in northern Lawrence County, at Railroad Bed Park and Sawcreek Rd., a large cherry tree 12 to 14 inches in diameter was uprooted along with a large oak tree. A trailer was demolished. A house that was 80 percent completed sustained damage to the roof and walls. The eyewitness saw the tornado around 630 AM-638 AM CDT. The tornado started near Barnesville on Barnesville Rd. A basement home lost its roof. Mr. Jean Konig, a neighbor, saw the tornado take the roof off the house at 645 AM. This causes a time discrepancy between the time the tornado was sighted at Barnesville and the time it got to Summertown.

Summary of deaths, injuries, and damages from this event across middle Tennessee: 0 deaths, 7 injured, 1 being critically injured, 2 homes damaged, 1 brick building damaged, 12 trailers demolished, 10 other[s] damaged, 2 transmission towers damaged, 3 damaged barns, a number of trees down or uprooted, and 2 telephone poles snapped.

I recommended to local emergency management officials who briefed us in Marshall and Lawrence Counties that a weather radio with an alert feature or a scanner with a weather alert feature will help them know right away when severe weather or a tornado warning is issued by the National Weather Service.

Jerry Orchanian
Warning Coordination Meteorologist