NASHVILLE, Tenn., (WKRN) — Imagine you are a National Weather Service lead forecaster ,and you have the flu. Then, imagine being home sick when one of the most devastating tornado outbreaks in recent years hits Middle Tennessee.
That happened to Sam Shamburger with Nashville’s NWS. He remembers taking video of the tornado that hit Nashville from his condo balcony. He told News 2 he was aware of the storms and realized with his high-rise condo facing towards downtown Nashville he would likely be able to see it as it passed by.
Sure enough, power flashed from electrical lines and transformers confirming the tornado was still on the ground. As Sam recorded it on his phone he also informed his colleagues at the NWS office.
“This is the view from my apartment,” Shamburger pointed out. “I look east over downtown Nashville. Of course, this new building in the foreground was not completed at the time.”
“I could see it in this area cross into North Nashville, after it moved over the Cumberland River. Then it continued eastward into the Germantown area which is located right about here just north of the State Capitol building. And the tornado continued eastward into East Nashville.”
“As the tornado came into my view, I could see the debris cloud at the ground as lightning lit up the tornado from time to time. And as the tornado hit powerlines along its path, the powerlines would arc, and create what’s called power flashes, and that would also light up the tornado. So that way I knew it was on the ground and doing damage.” Shamburger explained.
“As the tornado moved across North Nashville and Germantown, I could actually hear it tearing up buildings,” exclaimed Shamburger. “It sounded like crunching metal and debris and wood. You could hear it just kind of all banging together as it moved across North Nashville and Germantown.”
As a National Weather Service lead forecaster, Shamburger said he felt a little helpless being home at the time. But, he reported what he saw to his colleagues at the office.
“Of course, I wish that I had been at work that night,” Shamburger continued, “Because this is what we train for. And this is our main mission, to issue warnings to protect life and property.”
When he told the office he could see the tornado, they upgraded the warning to a considerable tornado warning. “Meaning that it was capable of doing significant or severe damage based on my report. And after that, they started getting even more and more reports as it moved through the rest of the city.”
The information Shamburger and other weather spotters relayed was critical in warning areas downstream of the storm like Donelson, Hermitage, Mt. Juliet, Lebanon, and eventually Cookeville.