Cruel reminder of weather’s unpredictability

Published 8:43 pm Tuesday, April 8, 2014

As the intimidating, ominous, and what some witnesses referred to as “black” clouds rolled through on a low pressure system from the southwest, it took just minutes for a devastating twister to wreak havoc on the area surrounding Old County Road and Beech Ridge Road near the border of Pantego and Belhaven.

Like Hurricane Katrina of 2005 or deadly tsunami in the Philippines last year, Monday was simply a harsh reminder that severe and destructive weather can happen at a moment’s notice. Luckily, this time around, no one was seriously injured or killed. Even the father and his son who were tossed by the tornado in their white pickup – a picture that will surely live in infamy – made it out all right.

However, not everything was left unscathed. On Beech Ridge Road alone, seven structures were damaged, upwards of 30 trees uprooted and four people were transported to the hospital. A heart wrenching and unbelievable sight Monday was.

It reminds us that we live in an area prone to severe weather events like hail and, yes, even tornados. Most of us being without basements, it’s important to stay informed, updated and prepared for weather anomalies, taking the appropriate actions when necessary.

Monday’s storm was more freak than anything, with a tornado warning being issued close to touchdown, but nothing is even etched into stone or correctly predicted when a severe thunderstorm approaches, especially with eastern N.C.’s chronically erratic weather patterns.

According to, you should already have an emergency kid and family communications plan in advance. Radio is the best form of staying up to date with weather, mainly because it does not require electricity to run (if battery powered).

Dark clouds with a greenish sky, traits identifiable with Monday’s storm, are the No.1 signifier a tornado is likely. Hiding in a storm cellar is clearly the best option, but a basement, bathroom or, if needed, a sheltered ditch can be alternatives for hunkering down in a tornado.

Every person should have a plan because next time, we might not be so lucky.