April 10, 2015 an EF4 tornado hit Fairdale, Illinois which is about 20-30 min away from where Aaron and I grew up in Rockford, Illinois. No tornado should ever be taken lightly, and 2 people lost their lives during this particular storm.
When the storm was developing (fast) I was on the phone catching up with an old college teammate of mine from Africa- we’ll call her Tiffany* for this story. Now, Tiffany* is a professional college tennis coach for a university in the Northern Illinois area. She has lived in Illinois for over a year now, but has never experienced a tornado. While on the phone with her, I heard Aaron absolutely freaking out in the living room, so I peaked out of the bedroom to take a look at what all the excitement was about. He had our main TV on, all 3 of our laptops on (featuring 3 different forecasting websites), and had a 4th site going in our computer room on our desktop computer. I was completely clueless as to what was developing, I just saw my husband in ‘go mode’ unable to utter a complete sentence to me when I asked him ‘what was going on?’
Well, it’s not hard to put the pieces together when you have 4 computers and a television on to see that a huge tornado was forming 20 minutes from home and 10 minutes from where Tiffany* was. When I was able to capture Aaron’s attention for about 15 seconds to tell him that Tiffany* was in the area and ask if she should take cover, he screamed in horrified excitement that she needed to get underground immediately. The following conversation occurred:
Me: “Tiffany* turn on your television and watch the tornado that is 10 minutes away from you.”
Tiffany*: “Oh what’s happening? Is it going to rain here?”
Me: “No Tiffany*, there is a tornado headed your way.”
Tiffany*: “Oh, what are my local channels here to look at?”
Me: “Are you serious? I have no idea, I’m in Oklahoma, try Channels 3,4,5,6,etc…”
Tiffany*: “I can’t find them!”
Me: “OMG, ok, well try to pull it up on your laptop, you need to be watching what is going on, the tornado could turn and head your way!”
Tiffany*: “Well what do I do when the tornado comes? Oh! I just got a text from someone!” (she then giggles at the text)
Me: “Tiffany*! Hello!? You get into your basement if you have one, or you go into the bathroom.”
Tiffany*: “How about I head into the garage, I don’t have a basement.”
Me: “No, do not go into the garage. That is a very bad idea, if you don’t have a basement then you need to get your mattress and go into your inner most bathroom and put it over you in the tub.”
**About this time, I realized she was completely oblivious to the situation, and she had no idea how to take safety for a tornado even though she and I went to school in Ohio, and she’s been in the states for 10 years now.
I screamed at Aaron to tell me which way the tornado was headed and if Tiffany* needed to find shelter or not. My answer was that the tornado had turned and was no longer going towards my friend. I told Tiffany* not to worry about taking shelter, but encouraged her to have a plan for next time as this was a total cluster preparing her for an EF4 that was 10 minutes away from her. Once the tornado hit, moved on, and Aaron and I saw the destruction of it all, it hit home, again, how powerful these storms can be. While my friend Tiffany* was oblivious to the entire situation and the conversation was funny, I still don’t know if she understands how close she was to it and hope to God she knows what to do if one ever hits closer to her. If this story has one lesson in it, it is to invest in a weather radio & hook it up in your home, so that if you are like Tiffany* and have no idea what your local television stations are, and cant figure out how to pull it up on your computer, you’ll at least be prepared with the radio.
In the meantime I think my IQ dropped about 10 points after that phone call. Tiffany* if you are reading this, know I love you and am not picking on you (ok, maybe I am a little bit), but living in the Midwest comes with risks and everyone needs to be ‘weather aware’ and know what steps to take to be safe and take shelter when needed 😉
To read more on the Fairdale, IL storm and what lessons need to be learned, please visit Aaron’s mentor Eric Sorenson’s blog: http://wqad.com/2015/04/20/what-we-need-to-learn-from-the-deadly-tornadoes-this-month/
There are often times local events held by different organizations that ask the news stations in their area if they’d be able to have a reporter, anchor, meteorologist speak to the crowd about a particular topic. This can be a great opportunity for both news personalities and the organization to raise awareness and educate the public on various topics. The KFOR team has a great program called “Weather School”. The Meteorologist will go to a school assembly and talk about how to be ‘weather aware’ and go over safety precautions to take when a tornado is headed their way. The kids love it, the teachers love it, and the Meteorologist has a great time and gets to feature the kids on the news that night.
Adults need training too. Aaron recently got to be a guest speaker for the FAA Safety Team’s “Safer Skies Through Education” Program. The topic: “Weather (the complex part)” : Weather far beyond a simple briefing. Ooooh, sounds enticing! The talk was going to be about :30 minutes for Aaron on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, so I decided to attend! When we got to the meeting we found that the speakers were running behind, about an hour behind, so I got to hear all about the ‘complex part of weather’ from various different guest speakers ranging from Air Traffic Controllers, to Navigators, and aviation weather experts walking us through their websites. I’d like to say it was exciting, engaging, interesting, and educational, but WOW, I had no idea what the heck they were talking about! I felt like I had regressed back to being 3rd grader listening, but not comprehending anything, and fighting to keep my eyes open and hide my yawning!
I’ve concluded I’m not the best at hiding when I am bored, lost, confused, the teacher/instructor usually knows exactly where I’m at mentally based off my doodling, my yawning, and general lack of interest. Not that this FAA meeting was boring in anyway, I just didn’t know what the heck was going on. However, they did have delicious brownies that I inhaled–> worth it!
Anyways, Aaron’s turn finally came, and there was an excitement in the room. Everyone went from this:
When Aaron got up to talk. Aaron pretty much came down the lecture hall looking like this:
But in reality, here is a video of how it really went down:
So all-in-all, I’d have to say it went pretty well! I don’t think I’ll be becoming a pilot anytime soon, which should make my father breathe a sigh of relief, I also won’t be attending anything that is labeled “The Complex Part” in any category, and I also would like to avoid college lecture halls as much as possible to try and maintain my overcompensation of alertness:
Rockford and Oklahoma City stations Aaron has been at have both hosted “Weather School”. The
weathermen Meteorologists from the TV station get to go into schools and give about an hour talk to elementary school kids. Usually it’s one weatherman Meteorologist that goes in and visits. They will go in, tell the kids about themselves, how they got into weather, show them a video, and have the kiddos ask questions at the end. I’ve witnessed a few school talks, and I think they are adorable. The kids always have stories to share and questions to ask. Sometimes, they will write ‘thank you’ cards to show their appreciation, this is probably the cutest thing I’ve seen and I’d like to share some with you:
This one looks like a valentines day card, she must have a crush =) How cute!
Hey Emily, these girls say hi…
There’s a tornado in the distance!
The dominator…very accurate 😉
I’m so glad they think he’s good at his job!
Watch out for the
lightening lightning bolt!
Whaaaat? I’ll never be able to draw like this!!!
tee hee…”Comeing”, “geolige” “astronomie” “hoby”–I wish we got cards every week!!!
Weather School is the best entertainment!
Given that today is the first snow day this season that Oklahoma has had, I thought it’d be appropriate to present you with the 5 stages of a snow day as told by viewer comments, and then me:
- Denial and Isolation
Viewer: “I’ll believe it when I see it.”
Me: “Hey, Aaron, is it really going to snow?”
Viewer: “Rule of thumb: Whatever is predicted by OKC Meaty Urologists, we’ll actually get 1/10th of that. So, we’ll get about 1/10th of an inch here in OKC.”
Me: “What do you mean you have to work extra hours!? It’s only 1-2 inches!”
Viewer: “Can I please get a snow day for work?”
Me: “If they have you work extra hours, can you get an extra day off?”
Viewer: “I am so ready for summer!”
Me: “I guess the dogs and I will catch up on some Netflix. I’ve been meaning to watch every episode of Mad Men in one block of time.”
Viewer: “I love the snow, hell if it’s going too be cold, it makes it even better w/ the snow!”
Me: “Yay, Netflix!”
I’m not sure how much snow we’ve actually gotten as I’ve done today what I’ve always done when watching local news, where I watch it and it goes in one ear and out the other, but I like to base everything off of the amount of snow the dogs bring into the house, so I’m guessing we’ve gotten like 10″inches or so. The reporters are all standing outside freezing their butts off reporting on driving conditions on the 1-2″ we’ve gotten in the metro, it’s pretty much looking like this out there:
Yay snow days!
Many people come up to me and ask me what it’s like to be with a husband that is on TV. “It must be so glamorous” they say. “I bet you get a lot of perks!” they chant. “I saw him on TV last night and this morning, whats up with that?” Ding, ding, ding! There we go, my first real question about the ‘perks’ of being a TV
weatherman Meteorologist. Once you actually start watching the news as much as I do, you seriously start noticing the crazy schedules that the weathermen Meteorologists have.
weatherman Meteorologist will have a ‘schedule’ of sorts for the position they have at their station. There is the Chief weatherman Meteorologist that works prime time nights, the Morning position is self explanatory where they will work the morning shows, then you will have other positions that work the weekends, noons, sister stations, etc. All of them will eventually have to fill in for another weatherman Meteorologist with or without sufficient notice. Someone will undoubtedly get sick, have a family situation pop up, car problems, work an extra shift the previous day and be able to make up time by getting someone to pick up a shift they were scheduled for the next day, etc., etc., etc.
While the rest of us work our normal Monday-Friday 8am-5pm job, TV
weatherman Meteorologists can work any of the 7 days of the week, morning, afternoons, nights, split shifts, 12 hour long shifts, no shifts, 6 hour shifts, studio shifts, live shot shifts, tag-teaming the studio shifts, tag-teaming live shot shifts, babysit storms that may or may not develop shifts, making new graphics shifts, school talk shifts, new computer training shifts, 10 days in a row shifts, 15 days in a row shifts, holiday shifts; yes, I can keep going, but at this point, you get it.
I feel like I’m living in the movie “Office Space” sometimes. Aaron will literally work his butt off for 8 days in a row (refer to shifts above), he will FINALLY get a day off and he’d have to go in for TPS report training (if you don’t understand what I’m referring to, stop reading right now and watch the movie “Office Space”- and while you’re at it, watch some episodes of “The Office”- and you might as well watch the movie “Twister” just to keep up with my bloggisms):
Just to give you a peak into the “Brackett” life here is what Aaron’s schedule was this past week:
Saturday: 2:00p-7:00p, dinner break, back in at 8:00p-11:00p
Sunday: Worked on graphics in the morning and afternoon, came home for dinner, went back to do 10:00 show after the football game was over-the show was delayed because of the game, so therefore, he got home after midnight.
Monday: Training from 8:00a-4:00p
Wednesday: “Talent Training” at 5:30p-6:30, “graphics” meeting after that, came home for dinner, went back into the station at 10:00p, stayed overnight to create graphics, came home at 5:30am.
Thursday: OFF- but still went into the station to make sure graphics made a smooth transition
Here is what his schedule should ‘normally’ be:
Thurs-Fri: Split shift 9am-1:00p, 9:00p
Sat-Sun: 5 or 6:00p, 10:00pm
…As a wife, I’m over here like:
How do you plan a life when a “schedule” isn’t really a “schedule”?
I’m sure at this point, you have been with your significant other on a date night, their phone makes a noise so they open it to take a look, you roll your eyes because they shouldn’t be looking at it in the first place, you ask them to put it down, and you move on with your night. I don’t get this luxury. When a
weatherman’s Meteorologists phone goes off, no matter what occasion it is, they legitimately have to look at it.
Aaron literally has too many weather apps to count on his phone (OK, whatever, I counted 11; but still, you get my point). There is one for radar, one for the Mesonet, one for the NWS (National Weather Service), and some other really nerdy ones that don’t even make sense to me when he opens them. Regardless, he needs to look at his phone for incoming storms to know if he has to book it into work or if he needs to post something on social media so his viewing audience knows what is about to happen.
Besides Aaron looking at his phone all the time, we also can’t do normal activities without weather being brought up. We went to an OKC Thunder game the other night and verbatim he asks me, “Why do you think they didn’t play with the whole “Thunder” word more with the logo? Don’t you think it would look cool if they had a
lightening lightning bolt in it?” My answer to him was, “Because they wanted to be a classy team and a lightening lightning bolt would be corny.”
Not only did we have to discuss the lack of a
lightening lightning bolt being on their logo, but he also had to analyze the fact that the Chesapeake Arena would not be an ideal building to be in during a tornado. In case you were wondering the fact that it’s a big, steel building that fits 20,000+ people is what makes it unfit to be in during a tornado.
oh yea, we also had to talk about the impending doom of a tornado hitting the city. “It’s not if, but when.”
Now that you are thoroughly scared that a tornado will inevitably hit OKC, I can tell you the fact that I couldn’t even go through my wedding day without hearing about the weather. Yup, we had an entire table at our venue, actually, 2 tables now that I think about it, filled with
weathermen meteorologists. To say that they all share a special bond wouldn’t express the amount of “brotherhood” these guys share with one another. There was an impromptu karaoke song that broke out in the middle of the reception where the Beach Boys song “Kokomo” came on. In our hometown of Rockford, Illinois the weatherman Meteorologists made a parody of “Kokomo” by inserting local counties into the lyrics “Way down in Winnebago.” (Shout out to Mark Henderson <WIFR> and Eric Sorenson <WQAD> for writing the lyrics and blessing my wedding day with the following:
“…baby why don’t we go down to Marengo we’ll get there fast and then we’ll pay a toll, that’s where I wanna go, way down to Winnebago.”
Fun times? Yes. Weather related? Absolutely. Do I expect to hear about weather on a daily basis? Unfortunately.
These are just a few days in the life of being a wife of a
weatherman Meteorologist. On a day-to-day basis I talk about weather more than any other person naturally would, but I still have to ask my friends and co-workers what the weather is going to be that day because when Aaron tells me it honestly goes in one ear and out the other because I’m unsure of when I actually need to listen 😉 You can’t blame me though because I literally can’t go one day without talking about the weather.