NewsCovering Kentucky


Remembering the March 2012 tornado outbreak

Posted at 5:02 PM, Mar 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-02 17:03:56-05

Today marks seven years since an outbreak of deadly tornadoes hit several southern and eastern Kentucky towns.  It followed a series of tornadoes that struck just days before in some of the same areas.

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“It was an outbreak that was as bad as I have ever seen here in Kentucky. It was about the worst that we could ever expect here,” said LEX 18 Stormtracker Chief Meteorologist Bill Meck.

Destruction and chaos are two words that could describe the powerful tornadoes that struck southern and eastern Kentucky on March 2, 2012.

Towns were overwhelmed with damage from the storm that was “well-forecasted” but not typical for the mountains of Kentucky.

“That blew away several old weather myths about tornadoes and mountainous terrains, because again, that stuff is not supposed to happen. Yet it did,” Meck says.

An EF-3 tore through West Liberty in Morgan County killing more than 20 people. It’s a town that’s still trying to pick up the pieces seven years later.  It took three years to rebuild the West Liberty United Methodist Church.

The potential for dangerous weather triggers those who vividly remember the day.

“For us, it was a classic Midwestern tornado outbreak that we brought into Eastern Kentucky.”

In East Bernstadt, six people died after an EF-2 hit on the same day.

“We were able to minute-by-minute literally tell the people, you are in the path of this. You need to be in shelter now,” Meck remembers.

The rarity of the storm still leaves Meck in awe. In 20 years at LEX 18, it’s one of those days he will never forget.

“Hopefully I don’t ever see one like it again in the next 20.”