It took a rare, historic, record breaking blizzard to get me to do something I hadn't done in 20 years of working at KTUL! Sleep at the station! Sure I've had some late nights that extended into the early morning hours covering severe weather, but I've never had to sleep at work. Several other employees at KTUL slept here too.
Before the blizzard struck I had a feeling I may not be coming home for a while. All of the computer models I use to forecast the weather were indicating that we were in for a big storm packing lots of snow. Sensing I wouldn't be able to get home once the snow started I brought to work my essentials: toothbrush, deodorant, electric razor, etc...
When the freezing rain, sleet and then snow hit, I was busy doing cut-ins throughout the night. Our morning meteorologist Mike Collier came in to relieve me at 2am, but by then the boss told me he wanted me to do the morning show too which started at 4:30am. That left me with about an hour and a half to rest. So I found a spot in one of our conference rooms to lay down. As you can imagine I didn't get much sleep, but the adrenaline and coffee got me through a 5 hour morning show.
By the time our morning coverage ended our parking lot was buried in snow and our cars were blocked by huge drifts of snow. There was no way anyone was getting out even with a 4-wheeler. Plus Channel 8 is on what is called Lookout Mountain, which gets very slippery when it's icy or snowy. So getting down the mountain is a challenge. And besides, if I tried to go home and got stuck I wouldn't be able to get back to work for the evening coverage of the blizzard.
I must say the staff at Channel 8 did a great job of making work feel like home. Before the blizzard hit they brought in lots of food. A buffet table of snacks was set up in the hallway. And a menu was posted for all the hot meals we were going to get since we have a full kitchen in the studio. For example, we got waffles, eggs, sausage, bacon, biscuits and orange juice for breakfast. A list was started on where everyone was going to sleep. Employees slept in closets, storage rooms, offices, edit rooms and conference rooms. I spent the night in the conference room that I rested in earlier in the day, only this time I had a few roommates.
It was interesting to see fellow employees in a different light. Wearing pajamas, glasses, without makeup for example. I'm sure I scared a few myself.
Then after a couple of days, one by one, employees were digging their cars out of the snow and attempting to get home. It wasn't hard to find someone to help dig. Management and staff were braving the cold and snow in the parking lot with shovels in hand. I finally made it home, only to turn around after a hot shower to return to work for that night's newscasts.
Life has returned to normal, although we still have mountains of snow out in the parking lot. It was an experience most of us will never forget!
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