LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Springlike storms that rumbled across Kentucky on Monday spawned at least two reported tornadoes that caused damage in Hardin and Lincoln counties. Funnel clouds sent others scurrying for cover.
In Hardin County, the storm leveled a food store, damaged homes, downed power lines and trees and caused children to hunch over in school hallways.
Lincoln County authorities in central Kentucky reported that four or five homes were destroyed and four or five others damaged in the McKinney area, said Ronnie Dobson, the county's 911 chief.
There were no reports of injuries in either county, authorities said.
Funnel clouds were seen in Adair County in south-central Kentucky, but there was no report of a touchdown, Kentucky State Police said.
Storm warnings were issued in other counties.
The storms, amid record-high temperatures that made it seem like spring rather than early January, also produced hail and heavy rain.
State police reported that a tornado touched down between Elizabethtown and Radcliff in Hardin County, close to three schools.
"We had a trooper who saw it on the ground and tracked it," said Trooper Steve Pavey, a spokesman for the KSP post in Elizabethtown.
The storms struck on the eve of the sixth anniversary of an early January twister that caused extensive damage, mostly in Daviess County in western Kentucky.
On Monday, Larry Schmidt said he watched a "pretty clear, distinctive funnel cloud" that moved away from his subdivision in Hardin County.
"There was very definite rotation, and it was pretty wide," he said. "It just had that kind of ominous feel, you could feel the pressure changing."
At nearby Bluegrass Middle School, Principal Brenda Pirtle had just picked up the intercom to dismiss students for the day when she heard storm sirens.
She ordered the school's 730 students into tornado drill formation — only this time it was no drill. The students were taken to hallways away from windows, where they sat down, ducked down and put their hands over their heads.
School bus drivers rushed in to say they saw the approaching funnel cloud along with debris in the air.
"It passed over the top of our school," Pirtle said.
She said the students remained calm. "They listened to instructions," she said. "They knew to take it very seriously. They did an excellent job."
Some of the parents who had been waiting to pick up their children weren't as calm, as they tried to find their children.
The storms struck amid unseasonably warm weather across Kentucky.
Among the day's record highs were 74 in Bowling Green, 72 in Louisville and 67 in Lexington, said Pat Waidley, a weather service meteorologist in Louisville.
The storms were created by a strong low pressure system drifting in from the Plains, along with warm, moist Gulf air followed by colder air.
"It's something that we would see typically in the springtime here," said Mark Jarvis, another weather service meteorologist.