This is part 1 of The True Story (Only Slightly Exaggerated) About The Time Ice Fell From The Sky And Bashed My House, With Added Drama. This is the build-up, you can skip ahead to part 2 for the climax of the storm or part 3 for the pictures of the aftermath if you prefer.
When the thermometer cracks 80° and it’s only March 2, you know there’s going to be trouble. That’s what happened to Tennessee (among others). The local news stations had been building it up for days, warning us that some really nasty weather was going to be sweeping through on Friday. There would be a quick round of nasty storms in the morning, and more protracted dangerous period in the afternoon. These days it pays to listen to those forecasts because tornados seem to be getting more and more common. So let’s just say I was feeling a little high strung.
It started out simply enough, a nasty squall line went through in the early morning but once it got past it was a nice day. For awhile there were nothing but the nice fluffy clouds in the sky. If it weren’t for the brisk wind you could almost believe it was a nice warm day in June. I was starting to relax a little even though I know 80° in early March was definitely not a good thing. It started to get worrisome when my dad calls me from east TN to ask me to look at the radar over them because our early morning squall line had picked up speed. His power was out and the police scanner was calling in tornado touch downs near them. And then I saw this:
I stole that graphic from Justin Bruce, the morning weather guy on Channel 2, but he got it from the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center. That big red dot of ‘high risk’ right in the middle hadn’t been there the day before, and if Justin was to be believed, high risk is a rarely used classification.
At this point I was sold. I decided to pack up and head out of the office at 1 PM (one of the few benefits of starting the work day at 6:30 AM…. you’re almost done by noon). My co-workers who sleep in and work late told me later that downtown started emptying out by about 3 PM other than tourists and basketball fans. I was feeling a little silly when I got home and it was still a nice June day out, but I still kept an eye on the radar.
A nasty strom finally started bearing down on us by mid-afternoon. Dickson was hit first and a lot of damage reports were coming out of there. We were watching Lisa Patton report on the storm on Channel 2 when suddenly she was being drowned out by lots of crashing and banging. My first thought was some wise guy reporter must have taken a mic outside, but it was actually the sound of the hail beating down on the studio roof as Lisa dramatically told everyone in the WKRN building to get to the basement.
Stay tuned for part 2, wherein our house gets beat all to hell by large chunks of ice falling from the sky.