Ohio tornado anniversaryJune 5th, 2012 at 3:21 pm by Tara Hastings under Weather
Two years ago today is a day I will never forget. It was a Saturday evening and I was just about to go to bed early because I worked the weekend morning shift in Toledo. I remember thunderstorms were firing up but my eyes were heavy so after watching the radar for a few minutes I decided to close my eyes and try to get some rest before my alarm woke me up at 3am.
Instead of my alarm bringing me out of my slumber loud thunder and flashes of lightning sent me into a panic. I turned on the TV and looked at my phone to see what time it was. Instead of seeing the time I had several text messages from my chief meteorologist letting me know a strong tornado had touched down followed by “this is not a joke.” I sprung out of bed got ready and went into work. It was about 2am by the time I got to the station. The crew from the Saturday evening newscast was still there. They were wrapping up live coverage while I was trying to wrap my head around the current situation.
I stared at the radar and the comments attached to the tornado warnings. A large tornado had been spotted and several homes and buildings were damaged. The town hit the hardest was Millbury, Ohio which lies just south of Toledo. The part that scared me the most was that this tornado touched down after 11pm. Many people are in bed and this is when tornadoes can be deadly. And this one was….
The image above is from the National Weather Service radar. This shows the wind speeds. The bright green and bright red spots that are close to each other indicate rotation. The tornado touched down at 11:20pm and was on the ground for ten minutes. During that ten minutes the tornado wrecked Lake Township damaged homes and destroyed Lake High School. It then moved across Interstate 280 and hit Millbury.
After sifting through all of the recent information I had to get ready for the Sunday morning newscast. I got my forecast together and tried to piece together a few graphics to talk about event. Right after the newscast I went with one of our reporters to Lake Township to see the damage for myself. Nothing could have prepared me for what I was about to see and hear. (Photos from the NBC station in Toledo)
The news reporter and I had to take a slight detour to get to Lake Township because several roads were closed. We finally made it to a neighborhood that had really bad damage. I was walking around assessing the damage when I started talking to one of the residents on the street. He looked tired and worn down. But there was something in his eyes that told me he had suffered greatly. I ended up talking to him and he told me he was on the phone with this daughter during the tornado. He was trying to guide her away from the twister but she took a wrong turn – drove into it and was ejected from the vehicle. She died and so did four other people that night. The man started to cry and I teared up as well. I had no idea what to say other than – I’m sorry for your loss, you are in my prayers. I will never forget that day.
Here’s a link to the National Weather Service – this shows the track and strength of the tornado.
Nightly tornadoes can be deadly. What wakes you up in the middle of the night if there is a tornado warning? A NOAA Weather Radio. Please get one – it can save your life.