Strong winds fell tall trees in EC homeowner's yard

021519 Trees Down

Craig Hassell and his crew on Thursday clean up 40-foot-tall trees felled by the strong winds that touched down Tuesday night in Bernie Trevillian's yard at 103 Fairlead Drive at Riverview Estates in Elizabeth City


By Julian Eure
Managing Editor

Friday, February 15, 2019

The cleanup continued in an Elizabeth City resident’s yard Thursday, a little over a day after some kind of storm event packing powerful winds uprooted seven or eight 40-foot-tall trees on the property.

Bernie Trevillian and wife Jan weren’t at home when the strong winds struck their property at 103 Fairlead Drive in Riverview Estates shortly after 10 p.m. Tuesday. But a neighbor who was told Trevillian the next day the sound “was like a train” coming through.

“It was a huge, roaring sound,” Trevillian said. “It was over in 10 minutes and then he said there was just dead silence.”

When the Trevillians got home on Wednesday — the couple maintain a second home on the Outer Banks where Bernie works during the week — he was amazed at the targeted destruction.

“I had these uprooted trees lying down in the yard like corn, and there were holes that looked like little craters,” Trevillian said.

However, there was no damage to his house — not even lost roof shingles. His neighbors seemed to have weathered the storm OK as well. Only one neighbor appeared to lose any roof shingles, he said. Even the trash cans in the neighborhood were still standing.

Trevillian, who remembers Hurricane Isabel hitting the region in August 2003, believes a tornado touched down on his property. The storm seemed “to jump right there and jump right out,” he said, referring to the destroyed stand of trees on his property.

However, Christy Saunders, emergency management coordinator for Pasquotank-Camden, said what most likely struck Trevillian’s property was a “downburst” of strong wind.

Downbursts are typically confused with tornadoes because of the damage they can cause.

In a tornado, high-velocity winds move in a circle and the air moves inward and upward. In a downburst, the winds are directed downward and then outward from where they hit the ground. Microbursts, according to weather.com, are downbursts that strike areas less than 2.5 miles in diameter. They last only about five minutes but can pack wind speeds in excess of 160 mph.

Saunders said she had not received any report of a severe weather event at Trevillian’s property. She also said the National Weather Service did not issue any tornado watches or warnings Tuesday night. The agency did issue a special weather statement that night, but she said those statements aren’t unusual.

“We get them when we’re expecting to see high winds or a strong thunderstorm coming through. We get them on a regular basis,” she said.

Saunders also said there also weren’t any reports of trees down elsewhere in Pasquotank County Tuesday night. There was a report of a downed tree partially blocking a road in Camden County, but state transportation workers were able to remove it, she said.

Saunders said two tell-tale signs of a tornado touching down are twisted trees and a path of destruction.

“I don’t want to minimize what happened, because he did have damage,” she said.

Trevillian estimates the job of cleaning up the downed trees in his yard will take a couple of days and cost somewhere around $3,000.