Good morning! Yesterday was indeed a "Terrible Tuesday." Across the Midwest, more than 350 reports of severe weather came in during the 12 hour period of 4pm and 4am. Reports that included damaging hail, damaging straight-line winds, and many tornado touchdowns. And it could've been much worse. This was the first severe weather outbreak in the Midwest in the new year and my colleagues at the National Weather Service did an exemplary job at issuing warnings and sharing reports of damage. In fact, according to my friend Andy Ervin of the Quad Cities National Weather Service office, yesterday produced the first tornado touchdown in their county-warning area in the month of February!
We knew Tuesday had the potential to be a nasty weather day. Late last week our weather team started putting thunderstorms into the forecast for Tuesday. Over the weekend, the high temperature was refined upward as new data pointed to a more potent southerly wind pattern.
On Monday and Tuesday morning, I put the map (above) on the air in almost every weather segment from 4:30am through noon each day. I got a little flack because it didn't line up with the Storm Prediction Center forecast that the dangerous weather would stay in Central Illinois. Some folks on Facebook and Twitter complained that I was "blowing everything out of proportion" and that I was "scaring people." Turns out, I accurately recognized the danger this type of low pressure would give us...and the forecast verified. I'll even be honest and say "I lucked out!" Unfortunately, my success in forecasting meant that some people lost their homes. When it comes to our next chance of severe weather, I am hopeful I have the skill to recognize the threats well in advance. Having someone die because they didn't know a storm was coming, is any Meteorologist's worst fear.
All of us at WQAD News 8 take pride in doing hard work. I was proud to be able to work alongside Chief Meteorologist James Zahara and Meteorologist Taylor Graham for extensive, non-stop coverage yesterday. We were first to stream on Facebook Live, on our website, and over the air with our team of Meteorologists. Together, we tracked every storm. Our anchors were helping provide reports from our audience as it happened, and our reporters had multiple live video feeds looking into the storms.
The reason I get up at 1:30am is so I can spend time forecasting the weather each morning. It would be easier if I slept for another 45 minutes, ripped the forecast from the National Weather Service, and had the same graphics on the air each morning. But that's not challenging to me personally and it's sure not what you want from someone looking out for you.
We have already had conversations about what we're going to do to be better next time. Please let me know if you have ideas, kudos, or complaints. I'm very far from perfect, but I thought it appropriate to write this story today. After all, it's probably only going to be a day or two until I hear "You've got the only job where you get paid to be wrong every day."
Every day...until next time, my thanks to you for reading and watching.
-Meteorologist Eric Sorensen