One year ago, a devastating tornado outbreak struck areas from Illinois to Virginia and from the Tri-State south to Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and the Carolinas, leaving 41 people dead and multitudes of others injuried. Here is the day of March 2 as I (Jeremy) remember it. I put this in timeline form at the six month anniversary. Obviously, nothing has changed from this timeline, but we’ve added some video to it.
1:00 AM: Day 1 SPC outlook places Cincinnati in moderate risk of severe storms.
7:00 AM: I’ve been up all night tracking what is occurring out in Missouri. I now have a doctor’s appointment to go to, but I leave radar up while I’m preparing.
10 AM: Rain hits the downtown area of Cincinnati — but this isn’t even the main event.
11:00 AM: Severe weather has broken out in Alabama.
11:30 AM: SPC new outlook puts Cincinnati and NKY in the High Risk zone. Nick Byrd puts out the word on the NKY Weather Facebook…my cell phone battery has died by this point as I’ve been watching things all morning.
1:45 PM: I make it home and jump in on coverage on an Internet radio station (JJRN) run by a pair of friends, Jarrod Jicha and Cindy Detro (sadly, the station no longer exists).
2:50 PM: A major tornado forms west of Henryville, Indiana.
3:00 PM: Henryville is hit by the first of two tornadoes to strike the vicinity. This would do damage all the way into Carroll County, KY, and a tornado would be captured on video by my friend and colleague, storm chaser Corey Ecton, nearby:
3:19 PM: First tornado warning in the NKYWx forecast area, covers the extreme western part of NKY.
3:34 PM: National Weather Service in Wilmington issues first ever (for that particular NWS office) “Tornado Emergency”, covering a chunk of the western forecast area.
3:44 PM: Tornado Warnings dropped for southwestern Dearborn, southern Ripley counties…a new warning would be needed minutes later for the Holton tornado for Ripley County.
3:50 PM: New “Tornado Emergency” covers Carroll, Gallatin, Kenton, Boone, Switzerland, Grant and Owen counties.
3:52 PM: I take cover in the basement at home, as a course of least regret.
3:53 PM: Tornado hits Holton, IN.
4:03 PM: Another tornado warning for Boone, Gallatin, Kenton and Switzerland counties. I stay in my basement through this, tornado sirens blaring all along.
4:15 PM: Debris reported falling in Boone County as of 4:10 PM. Another official Tornado Emergency is issued based on this report.
4:32 PM: I call the Tornado Emergency for Piner and Morning View…Tornado has formed in Crittenden and is clearly seen on radar, with a debris ball signature. This tornado actually came within a few hundred feet of Nick Byrd’s home. We are thankful we didn’t have to help one of our own, but would have if need be.
4:35 PM: Boone County pulled from the tornado warning. I rejoin coverage online on JJRN soon after until that ends.
Things become a blur after this, and in my fatigue that day, I’m sure I forgot a lot. A lot of the following comes from the National Weather Service offices in Wilmington, OH and Jackson, KY.
4:40 PM: Another tornado touches down in Peach Grove, KY; it would track through Moscow, Ohio and all the way to near Hamersville, Ohio in Brown County before lifting.
5:02 PM: Small tornado in Berlin, KY (Bracken County).
5:25-5:40 PM: Several tornadoes strike Adams County, Ohio.
5:58 PM: Tornado hits the downtown sections of West Liberty, KY, which is east of Lexington and southwest of Ashland, KY.
6:50 PM: Salyersville, Kentucky hit by tornado.
7:00 PM: Portions of Laurel County, KY hit by another destructive tornado.
Around 9:30 PM: JJRN coverage wraps up.
11:00 PM: I finally climb into bed, completely exhausted.
Over the following days, the Crittenden/Piner and Henryville tornadoes would be declared EF-4’s; the Peach Grove to Moscow to Hamersville, Salyersville, West Liberty, and Holton tornadoes would be declared EF-3, and most others noted in this listing would be found to be EF-2’s or lower. Eleven fatalities have been confirmed in the Cincinnati television market, which I still take personally to this very day. It was the worst day of my storm tracking career. I hope I never see this happen again, but in reality, tornado outbreaks occur every year. We’re going to see this happen again. Our job is to limit the number of fatalities, and I promise you that I will be involved in that effort until I no longer have the strength to do so.
To that end, I am proud to announce that this season I am partnering with Corey and Nick Long to chase some of the events that come our way. I’m not sure when our first chase of 2013 will be, but we’re going to be working together and will try to make the process better.