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120 MPH Winds Break Records Atop Grandfather and Wreak Havoc on High Country, Killing Cow in Bethel

By Jesse Wood

Dec. 26, 2012. A few days before Christmas, winds in excess of 100 mph blew through the High Country, breaking records and wreaking havoc.

On the evening of Dec. 21, the anemometer atop the Mile High Swinging Bridge at Grandfather Mountain notched 120.7 mph amidst wind chills well below zero degrees. The previous three-second-gust record atop Grandfather Mountain was set on January, 26, 2011, and was one of the highest wind speeds ever recorded in North Carolina, according to State Climatologist Ryan Boyles.

Across the way in the Bethel community, the winds picked up a 2×4 and rammed it through a mobile home by a full foot. The wood came from the roof of a nearby well-built barn. The owners said the home was also well built and the damage would have been the same to a wood-constructed home. Luckily, no one in the home was injured.     

However, there was one casualty during the high winds on the evening of Dec. 21 – an Angus cow, according to Karen Carter of Bethel. In a nearby field, down the valley from Carter’s house near Phillips Branch Road in Bethel, a falling tree during the high winds, struck and killed her neighbor’s Angus cow.