“I was doing my standard tracking during severe weather events,” Jackson said. “When the tornado warning went out for upper Scott county, I wasn’t worried because I knew it was a ways away from my house, but my sisters and I took cover anyway.”
Once the storm passed, Jackson returned to his regular routine, only to find out that more danger was on the way.
“My mom was on her way home from Bourbon county,” Jackson said. “The previous warning had expired by the time she arrived, but she told me the sky looked eerie outside. Soon after that, a severe thunderstorm came through, and only lasted 15 minutes. Then, in an instant, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, and that was kind of scary.”
Then, Jackson made a disturbing observation, followed by the deafening sound of a tornado siren.
“I was looking at the velocity map and noticed the storm was right on a path to my neighborhood,” Jackson said. “I got my pets and family into the bathroom and kept looking at the radar while we were in shelter, hoping that somehow the storm would blow south, but it never did.”
What came next were moments that Jackson would never forget.
“There was some wind blowing, but nothing too hard,” Jackson said. “Then it became quiet, eerily, quiet. Suddenly, the winds picked up, and they were whipping violently. I could feel the pressure dropping and the house was vibrating. You could hear everything whipping against the house.”
In those intense moments, Jackson feared that it could be the end.
“The whole time we were lying in the bathroom praying our hearts out,” Jackson said. “We were screaming for mercy. I was thinking that this was my final moment. This is how I die. I even became angry, believing that I’d never get to live my dream of becoming a broadcast meteorologist.”
Just as soon as the chaos began, it was over, or so one would think. Jackson emerged from shelter to find the last thing he was ready to see.
“What I saw terrified me,” Jackson said. “There was another storm, headed right towards my house. This time, the radar had a definite hook. Again, I ran back into the restroom and began praying my heart out. Thankfully, this time there was only the sound of hail hitting the house.”
Looking back on the storm, and knowing that a tornado touched down just to the east in Bourbon county, Jackson counts his blessings.
“I was definitely scared out of my mind and expecting a direct hit,” Jackson said, “but God was merciful and saved us with answered prayers. Being a forecaster, I guess I knew the danger of tornadoes, which scared me more than usual.”
Despite all things, Jackson feels that he learned a lot.
“This is definitely a moment I will keep with me my entire life,” Jackson said. “I will use this to help understand tornado formation and better prepare people for them.
But not only did Jackson gain knowledge for himself. He states that there is a lesson for all people when it comes to tornadoes.
“First of all, God is good, and all the time,” Jackson said. “Secondly, always take warnings seriously. Even though it’s just an EF-1, it’s still strong enough to kill you. Thirdly, don’t risk your life to get that amazing weather photo that will go viral on social media. Take a picture with your mind and get to cover. You can explain it if you’re alive.”
One thing is for sure, sometimes, even those that track the weather have to take cover from the very storm they expected, as they are not immune to the fury of Mother Nature.
It was an unforgettable day for those in weather, and many were out to gather pictures of the violent storms. Below are some pictures sent into me from Peter King, and Jenna Mattingly.
- Chris Reece