Montgomery Residents Clean Up After Violent "Downburst" on Thursday Night

'Down-burst' Winds Felt Like E-F 1 Tornado Thursday Night In Montgomery
'Down-burst' Winds Felt Like E-F 1 Tornado Thursday Night In Montgomery

We met up with Jim Stefkovich and Kevin Pence of the National Weather Service. Two men looking at what seems like to us nothing more than a pile of bricks, a broken wall just outside of Steve and Barry's at Montgomery Mall.

But these guys see something else, the signature of something powerful but not a tornado.

"We'll look at the construction and be able to get a pattern. We can already tell this was a 'down-burst' of wind, not a twister," said Stefkovich.

Together Stefkovich and Pence have more than 50 years in the weather forecasting business yet concede they still don't know all there is to know.

"No matter how good you think you are, mother nature has a way of humbling all of us," Stefkovich said.

Thursday night was a case in point. Meteorologists tracked an intense thunderstorm moving through Montgomery but the National Weather Service did not issue a warning, nothing on radar indicated what Stefkovich describes now as a 'down-burst.' It simply blew down without a moment's notice.

"We feel that cool rush on the face before the rain hits us. We call it down-burst, straight-line winds," said Stefkovich.

A straight-line wind that delivered anything but a straight line path of damage. Mayor Bobby Bright took an air tour before a morning news conference.

"It was spotty. It didn't have a narrow path like you might see from a tornado," said Bright.

In all 10 businesses and 20 homes and apartments were damaged in some way. No serious injuries reported.

Back at the brick wall, Stefkovich and Pence tell us they'll look at their radar again and compare what they see at Montgomery Mall and in other areas that were damaged. It's all an effort to become even more skilled at weather forecasting, an elusive goal that changes with the weather.

"We don't want to over-warn people but see how we can do better in the future. It's one of those things that it's not perfect science yet," Stefkovich said.

Mayor Bright says he doesn't know if any of the damaged areas will be eligible for Federal assistance because it appears that most of the homeowners and businesses were insured.