Die-Hard Memphis Tigers Fans Brave The Tornado Warning For The Season Kickoff

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) - Thursday afternoon's severe weather and tornado warning in Shelby County made for an unusual and dramatic pregame tailgate for Memphis football's most dedicated fans.

A select group of loyal Tigers fans arrived 12 hours before the 2017 season kickoff, shielding from the rain and then scrambling for cover as the Liberty Bowl's tornado siren blared Thursday afternoon.

A Memphis Athletics spokesperson tells Local 24 the game against Louisiana-Monroe is still on as scheduled 8:15 p.m., and it's going to be a wet one.

The steady rain and severe weather left early tailgaters in a bind and bunched together in canopies in cars during that tornado warning.

It wasn't even lunchtime, but Brad Wright and his Memphis football tailgating friends were already hyped for game time, a kickoff still nine hours away at that point.  

"It says we are loyal to the blue,” says Wright. They've been tailgating together for the Tigers for ten years. "It's a family thing out here, if you bleed blue, come on out."

But mother nature tested that camaraderie a little after noon, when things worsened with heavy rain pelting Tiger Lane and high wind whipping flags.

Shortly before 1:00 p.m., forecasters issued a tornado warning in Shelby and surrounding counties, the siren blasting close by in the Liberty Bowl parking lot.

"My wife started calling, saying ‘are you guys ok?’ and I said, ‘what do you mean we are ok?’ says Wright.

Tailgaters quickly learned the siren wasn't a test, but a serious warning. When forecasters lifted the warning after 1:30 p.m., these football fans were left with a memorable, and at times, nerve-wracking tailgating experience.

"It's been a whirlwind, we'll say that, no pun intended for the tornado,” says Wright.

Emergency management crews follow the radar inside the stadium, and should any lightning emerge within eight miles during the game, the teams and fans will be evacuated until lightning passes through the area.



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