Looking Back. The Pulaski County Tornadoes. My version of the story.
If you didn’t get to see Holly Pietrzak’s story looking back at the one year anniversary of the Pulaski and Glade Hill tornadoes, you should watch it. She did an amazing job of showing how good people can rebound from such terrible devastation.
Much like I’m sure you remember certain occasions, the night of the Pulaski tornadoes replays in my head often.
I was filling in for Robin Reed the night of the severe weather outbreak in Pulaski county. As meteorologists, we are used to getting tornado warnings (issued by the National Weather Service Office in Blacksburg). Most of them are Doppler radar indicated, and may be twisting in the clouds, but just don’t reach the ground.
That night was different. I broke into programming to warn of the severe storm with possible tornado approaching Pulaski county from the west.
It was the first time in my career seeing a true hook echo on our radar. The kind you see in your meteorology textbooks. The kind that generate the “oh, crap” inside your head.
I remember getting the first picture in that confirmed the worst. Then the phone calls poured into the newsroom. We put several residents on-air. You could hear the fear in their voice. Everyone wanted to tell their story.
Several minutes later, another photo came in. This one of a line of cars stopped on I-81 as motorists watched the tornado come down the mountain, cross the Interstate, and move toward Draper.
I learned a lot from that day. We all did. All the myths that tornadoes can’t happen in the mountains were set free. The county that had never seen a tornado in the history books, had two in one night.
As a meteorologist, I’d like to think, hope and pray my cutting into programming to warn the residents in Pulaski, may have helped save some lives. There’s no way of knowing.
After seeing Holly’s story on the recovery efforts, it fills me with great joy to see the community coming together over the past year in light of such a tragedy. Neighbors helping neighbors. That’s what it’s about.
Thank you for allowing me to share my story. =B