LEBANON, Tenn. (WKRN) – When a tornado descended from the sky the morning of March 3rd, 2020, storm chaser Nick Powers, 27, was outside the Thornton’s Convenience store on Highway 109.
With electricity in the air and a vortex cloud forming on the horizon, the Boston native ran into the store and alerted cashiers and patrons.
“I decided for my safety I needed to take cover, knowing there was a big debris field indicated on radar,” he said.
Powers says no one in the store realized how close the tornado was. When they saw the storm approaching, they opted to hide in the restroom.
“They had no clue. I told them what was coming, brought them outside, told them to look off into the distance. We saw the lightning going into the vortex,” Powers said. “I said it is a dangerous storm on ground heading this way. The cashiers inside had no idea what was coming. There was little to no warning; the government alerts didn’t come through our phones at all. The sirens, we couldn’t even hear them in our area.”
When two more patrons pulled in to get gas, Powers held the door and yelled at them to take cover.
As the group of seven huddled in the bathroom, the power went out and the storm roared by.
“Two of us held the door shut to keep the room pressurized,” according to Powers.
Moments later, the storm moved on and the group got out of the bathroom, unharmed.
The devastation was overwhelming as windows were broken, metal was twisted, and vehicles were punctured. One of the pick up trucks at the pumps was covered with debris. Powers said the truck belonged to one of the people who took refuge with him.
News 2’s Andy Cordan asked Powers, “Had you not yelled to those people gassing up, would they have survived?”
“Definitely not. It was a big storm,” Powers replied.
Powers credits Danielle Breezy and the News 2 weather team for keeping him informed enough to know what to do and when to do it.