LOUISVILLE — If we still have electricity, most of us tune in for the television reports of a local meteorologist when severe weather threatens.
Cool, calm and collected, they broadcast with brevity news of pending thunderstorms, tornadoes and downpours. Amid radars and satellite images, we find some solace in their demeanor, as they seem attached to the situation yet safely separated from its repercussions.
But WLKY-TV Meteorologist Jared Heil knows a different story. While he’s a professional at forecasting the weather, Heil conceded he didn’t know how the day’s events would unfold when he was driving into work from Henryville on March 2, 2012.
Heil, 23, is a Henryville native and still lives on his family’s farm. That March 2 day wasn’t exactly like any other day, as Heil knew of the potential for severe weather in the area. He talked with his parents about the threat that morning, but admitted the conversation had a comfortable layer to it.
“I said, ‘There’s a good chance nothing will happen today’,” Heil said, though he added he warned his parents that the conditions could turn especially violent if severe weather did arrive in Southern Indiana.
“Then I looked at them and said, ‘you know it’s not going to happen here’.”
Heil arrived at the WLKY studio in Louisville for work around noon last March 2. The staff meteorologists immediately began tracking a storm system that would eventually produce tornadoes in the Evansville area. At about 1:45 p.m., WLKY interrupted regular programming and meteorologists began broadcasting the path of the storm system live.
During such live coverage, Heil rotates responsibilities between on-air forecasting and behind-the-scenes storm tracking. As he plotted where the system was likely to travel, he eerily realized Henryville was right in the storm’s path.
“I called Mom and Dad and said ‘this thing is headed right for you’,” Heil said.