Joe Winter's Blog: A Tragic Sunday


By Joe Winters

Tornado south of Hwy 14 near Parkersburg, just before the tornado entered town.Someone commented that I should blog, “about your experience in being on the air during the Parkersburg tornado - what was going through your head, how crazy the TV station was - things like that.” I thought about that and I think this would be a great idea. So my next several blog entries will deal with the coverage of the tornadoes on May 25th.

On Sunday, May 25, I worked the morning shift at TV9.  We had been talking about the possibility of severe weather on Sunday for several days in a row and that morning was no exception. A slight to moderate risk of severe weather was placed over eastern Iowa, and it looked like we were going to get hit.

I spent the rest my afternoon in front of the TV, watching ABC’s coverage of the Indy 500. I did have the computer logged in and kept checking the parameters that would cause thunderstorms to develop. Meteorologist Kaj O’Mara and I talked several times that afternoon, making sure we would be prepared when severe weather moved in. About 3:00pm the first tornado watch came out for Northern Iowa, followed by the second tornado watch for the rest of Eastern Iowa, around 3:30pm.  It was at this time that I decided to come into the station to help Kaj out when the weather turned nasty.

As I arrived at the station, Franklin and Hardin counties went under a tornado warning and at 4:22pm parts of Butler, Grundy and Hardin counties, including the city of Parkersburg, went under a tornado warning.  At this time Kaj and I went on air for continuous coverage for the tornado warning. Little did we know, at that time, that we would be covering one of only 6 EF-5 tornadoes to hit Iowa and it would be over 6 hours later when we would end our coverage.

Tomorrow, I will talk about the coverage, as it evolved on the air.

Weather or not, I'm Meteorologist Joe Winters

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