The Enterprise tornado was a massive tornado that struck Southern Alabama this past March. Although I was in Arkansas, I was paying very close attention to the storm. I was watching Rich Thomas and Rob Hatchell through our internal Raycom Media video server. I was analyzing the storm with radar (Gibson Ridge, for you weather folks) and was trembling while I watched what was unfolding. The reports of the High School started coming in... and the news was devastating.
In less than 48 hours, I was at Enterprise High School. The school that I once remembered was demolished. WSFA News Operations Manager, Jeff Harrison, and I drove around the property. He showed me things that were odd, amazing, and unbelievable. I remembered back to football games at EHS... The field was surrounded by pine trees back then... After the tornado, there were no trees. As a former resident of South Alabama, I was saddened at the site. Eight people died in that High School. I stayed in town for a few days working on "Today In Alabama" while Rob got some rest. While the reason I returned was horrible, it was good to see many of my old friends in Alabama.
As mentioned in a previous post, The NWS has released their final report. If you missed it, you can read it here. There are SEVERAL things that we learned in that report. I'll mention a few of those things...
First off, IEM chat service between the Media and the National Weather Service should be mandatory. At KAIT and WSFA, the IEM chat service is on throughout a severe weather event. It is a constant flow of communication between the National Weather Service and the Media. When I worked in Alabama, the Birmingham NWS was AWESOME with IEM chat. When I returned to Arkansas, neither Little Rock or Memphis NWS used IEM chat. I am happy to say that both offices are using it today! This is a GREAT tool that helps to save lives and All Media, All NWS offices, and ALL EMS offices should be on IEM chat in severe weather events... period.
This brings me to my second topic. In this report, it talks about the lack of warnings being aired on the local radio stations in AL and GA. Here in NE Arkansas, we do not have that problem. Triple FM radio is constantly on IEM chat as well and Trey Stafford and I are always tracking the storms together. It's a great partnership that helps save lives. I will guarantee you that if a tornado warning is issued in NE Arkansas, you will hear about it on KAIT and your Triple FM radio stations!
It's a partnership that we hope to spread across the country. Trey Stafford, Jim Cantore from the Weather Channel, and I are going to be speaking at a radio conference in Nashville. We hope to encourage many radio stations to ramp up their severe weather coverage. To read more on these efforts, click here. Trey has been working very hard on this project and I honored to help him in this movement next Spring. I'll keep you posted on the progress.
I have talked enough for now...I'm going to go hang out with my family.
Take care, Ryan