May 3rd, 2003; 10:30PM CST. Jackson, Tennessee.
It was a hot and sticky day, weather reports forcasted heavy
rains, strong storms. We knew this already, for the day,
like oh so many before it, was hot and sticky as well.
By nightfall, things started to cool down, tempatures fell,
rapidly. Storms rumbled from the far west, nothing too
evident, but we all kept our eyes on the radar. me? In
my bedroom, on the same terminal that exists today, still.
It was a careful balancing act, on the fairly newish KDS
Xflat monitor at full resolution, balancing two browsers,
watching, waiting for armageddon day on EVE-online, a role
playing game which I had signed up for not too long ago.
Little did I know that this night, and the following day,
would indeed be, armageddon day for us.
I kept my eye on the radar, weather.com providing
semi-informative and frequent news updates. We knew by
the line of storms that it would be a noisy night. The more
rain the better, it helps you sleep better, at least it did.
Time passed, the storms got closer, tornado watches were
issued, like so many times before. We didn't pay much
attention to them, about this time every year, the weather
gets bad, more watches come out than warnings, and most
of the time, it's just a heavy rain, followed by a very
cool following day.
I took another look at the clock, waiting for armageddon day
at eve. I sent a final few messages across AIM.
"We've got possible tornados coming this way hun, if I fall
offline, I've probably lost power. I'll talk to you as soon
as I can."
In the distance, I could hear a faint squeal, I couldn't
make it out, it sounded like sirens, but the fans in my room
drowned out the noise. There was a quiet knock at the door.
I knew it was my sister, she's so afraid of angering me that
she barely makes her presence known.
"Do you hear the sirens?", she asked.
My suspicions were confirmed, a rain had started by now,
not hard yet. thunder rumbled louder in the distance.
Sirens were the worst thing you could hear, that meant,
regardless of the weather reports, the sirens were 2 minutes
late for anything and everything, a funnel cloud was spotted.
somewhere, by someone.
We headed downstairs, after all, the sirens meant that only
a funnel was spotted, not an actual touchdown, and since
madison county is so large, it was most likely not even
"Have you been watching the weather?" I asked
"All night long", she said. She had her inflateable matress
sprawled out on the floor, she was spending the night
just for these storms. Our grandmother and one of her daughters
went to memphis to assist their elder family for the week.
I continued to watch the news, staring at the reporters
and the radar map, showing a huge blob of dark red, purple,
a massive storm cell approaching Jackson. It didn't look
preety, it looked frightening, even on tv radar.
The lightning quickened, rumbled louder.
"Go wake momma up", I said
"I don't want to make her angry", said my sister.
She was so afraid of angering everyone.
I went upstairs, to do the deed myself. Knocking several
times hard on the door "what?!" she snapped, frustrated
from someone breaking her slumber.
"Wake up and get downstairs if you want to live, we've
got tornados", I said. she quickly agreed that downstairs
was best, woke her boyfriend up, and she quickly came
downstairs. He remained, for whatever reason.
My sister and mother remained infront of the couch,
downstairs, watching the news, the approaching storm cell
grow meaner, wider, and come at us faster. I rolled back
the blinds on the sliding glass windows, opened up the
doors, and looked outside at the dark sky.
The lightning was getting quicker, much quicker, it preety
much kept the sky lit up, we knew it was fast approaching overhead.
You couldn't make out nothing in the sky, except for the dark
ugly massive clouds with low clearance overhead.
Her boyfriend finally came downstairs.
"Ya know, we could definitely use a 20 foot wide-beam
spotlight out here right now pointed at the sky", I said.
"Heh, yeah.", he replyed.
Time passed, I looked back and forth, switching from door
to TV, both happened to be conviently located next to each
other. The time was roughly 10:50PM CST. the TV started
flickering with electrical interruptions, the lightning
was interrupting power supplys at the tv station, and it was
getting more and more evident that this storm was going to
be very large.
The sirens went off again. "We need to ge in the hallway"
I said. and was the first to pile up with pillows,
blankets, everything I had to protect me from a crashing
My sister followed suite, we left the TV on so we could
hear it from the hallway, closed the glass window, and shut
the blinds incase glass broke, it would get mostly caught.
My mother followed my sister, sucking down one more
cancer stick, and piling up more pillows.
Mr. Cock'n'balls, her boyfriend, decided he could tough out
the storm, and continued walking around the house.
The power died at about 11:10PM, lighting was so frequent,
this is what we attributed the loss to. We huddled up in
the hall, completly unprepaired for the loss of power.
Scrambling together flashlights, candles we got a little light
back. Minutes passed, the rain turned into softball sized
hail that crashed against windows. broke glass out of cars.
Moments more passed, it got extremly quiet. We blinked in
the low-light, and immediately, a strong sucking noise
came from the door to my right. The best way to describe it
is the noise produced by trying to suck the last drops of
coke from the bottom of a cup with a straw, amplified 10 fold.
Things were definitely not good. This noise occured again.
This wasn't just any old noise generated by wind, this
was pressure difference caused by a wind vortex called
a tornado, a sudden pressure difference outside could generate
this horrible noise.
Winds picked up, faster and faster, everything went dead
silent again, the noise was heard once more, water blew
in on the floor under the door, we only noticed this later.
Everything eventually calmed down, we got up, streched out,
and went to bed, in the powerless night. hoping electricity
would come back on in the morning.
I woke up at 7AM the heat was starting to build up in
the house already.
We all piled in the car to find out what the tornado's did.
Downtown Jackson was destroyed. Postoffice? gone. Aeneas
Internet? gone. Power lines were snapped like toothpicks,
trees were TWISTED in half, split in two, and just plain
This was several times more powerful than the storms of '99.
Reports came in of missing people, two dead in the city
already, a mother and her child crushed under their
There wasn't a street, a single block with some kind of damage to it.
It's thursday now, 16 lives lost in the strongest tornado
to ever hit West Tennessee. a "strong F3" by the NWS, an "F4"
by the Jackson Sun, which had to reprint at Union University
due to lack of power. Winds between 186 and 201mph.
Power was lost to both water treatment plants, stop lights
were ripped from their lines and smeared on the roads like
a skid mark. the town was in chaos, no water pressure, nothing.
Power finally came back on this afternoon.
These events are true, and occured May 3rd, 2003 at ~11:20PM CST.