On Monday May 12, 2014, the WREX-TV coverage area was under a Severe Thunderstorm Watch for more than 12 hours. Here is a wrap-up of a severe weather event that was really on-going at the top of the 10:00pm hour.
In June 2013, a squall line with an embedded tornado moved into Lee County. My goal is to be on the air before the NOAA Weather Radio sounds. In this case, I was on the air within 30 seconds of the warning coming out. The cell ended up producing a tornado which destroyed a grain dryer north of the town of Amboy, Illinois.
On June 12, 2013, a tornadic supercell developed west of Rockford. The problem? WREX-TV is located two miles north of Winnebago, Illinois. When the warning sounded, we were again first on the air. And while some TV stations may go back to programming when severe weather endangers the station, I developed a protocol where we can broadcast live from the basement. I added a live skycam feed to our graphics so viewers could see a tornado had it formed in the few minutes we were evacuated.
Back in 2011, we also took the coverage into the basement. Our weekend Meteorologist and storm chaser, Aaron Brackett, was live on the phone about 2 miles from the station when we lost the connection. He had just reported extreme wind and a lowering of the cloud deck. The 650 foot tower began howling and we took it into the basement without skipping a beat (with the exception of the few seconds after a lightning strike).
The worst weather event of the 2013/2014 winter season was an icing event during the evening January 10th. This is the 10pm report.