I know many in Stuttgart today (Thursday) are talking about what happened 4 years ago. The town was forever changed as an EF3 tornado devastated the town. It was truly remarkable that nobody died and I think credit should be given to the National Weather Service and local media for getting the warnings out there. This was also the last severe weather outbreak of the historical 2008 spring season.
As everyone in Stuttgart tells their story about that day, I want to share mine with you along with some video and pictures.
We knew it was going to be a very bad Sunday afternoon. I have the ability to plot storm chasers on the radar and know their exact location as they chase. I noticed one of those chasers, Jeff Patrowski, was around Arkadelphia. I have known Jeff for a long time as a salesman/chaser for Baron Services. I called him on his cell and he said he thought storms were going to explode near the Malvern/Arkadelphia area around 4-5 PM that afternoon. He was right.
Soon after that phone call, we went on the air with continuous coverage of tornado warnings. As one of the tornadic supercells inched closer to Stuttgart, I noticed Jeff was directly underneath the rotating portion of the storm. I handed a piece of paper with Jeff's number on it to meteorologist Barry Brandt. A few seconds later, I heard Barry say that Jeff confirms a tornado on the ground and it was on the verge of going into Stuttgart. I immediately said on the air that this was a "tornado emergency" and begged everyone in Stuttgart to get down.
The rest is history. Once our news crews arrived and video was sent back to the station, the full scope of the damage was realized and it was a miracle no one died in that storm.
BELOW IS A VIDEO I PRODUCED JUST DAYS AFTER THE STUTTGART TORNADO. I WANTED TO RECAP THE HORRIBLE SEVERE WEATHER SEASON WE HAD AND TELL ARKANSANS HOW THEY COULD HELP THE VICTIMS. AS ALWAYS, ARKANSANS RESPONDED BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT WE DO AND THAT'S WHO WE ARE!!!!!!!!!!
Check out this video below from Jeff as he entered Stuttgart.
|Tornado as it moved into Stuttgart|