Alabama weatherman finds out live on air his home has been hit by tornado

‘As I often say, tornadoes happen to real people, at a real place, at a real time’

Louise Hall
Friday 26 March 2021 15:12
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Alabama weatherman learns live on air tornado has hit his home
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A revered Alabama weatherman showed the utmost professionalism amid a report of the ongoing tornadoes in Alabama, after finding out live on air that his home had been hit by the twister.

James Spann experienced every person's worst nightmare on Thursday when he discovered that his home had been caught in a tornado sweeping the area, the only difference being that Mr Spann was in the middle of a live broadcast.

The chief meteorologist for ABC 33/40 in Birmingham, a city in the north-central region of the state and where Mr Spann has worked since 1996, took a second to text his wife during the surreal moment to “make sure she’s in the shelter”.

Despite his persistence to get back on the air, a colleague was forced to take over as the Emmy-winning weatherman subsequently discovered his house had been hit by the storm.

“We had major damage at my house,” Mr Spann said. “I had to be sure – My wife is okay, but the tornado came right through there and it’s not good. It’s bad. It’s bad.”

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Despite the traumatic setback Mr Spann, who had recently been labelled as “Alabama’s most recognisable and influential TV weatherman”, according to The Washington Post, jumped back on the air.

“The composure he’s managed to maintain is unreal,” Pat Cavlin, a meteorologist in Florida, reflected on Twitter.

“One of my fears is happening right now to James Spann ... He’s covering tornadoes in Alabama and his house just got hit,” another fellow meteorologist Ryan Vaughan tweeted.

“He checked on his family and is still going forward to help inform viewers.”

Later on Twitter, Mr Spann posted an update saying his wife was there when the twister hit but went unscathed inside their in-home shelter and that his house was “intact”.

“Had a scare today,” he wrote. “As I often say, tornadoes happen to real people, at a real place, at a real time.”

“Many thanks to all of you who have reached out to me,” he said in another post. “My wife was home when it hit, but she got the warning, was in our home shelter and is fine.”

“While we lost many trees, the home is intact and we will not have to rebuild,” he added, urging people to “consider helping those across the state who have much more serious damage.”

At least five people have died in the state so far as storms and tornadoes moved across the Southeast US on Thursday.

The system causing the twisters has threatened 30 million Americans with severe weather and leaving nearly 55,000 across the country without power.

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