WTVA-TV Meteorologist Orders Tornado Evacuation On Live TV — VIDEO
The death toll rose to at least 28 Tuesday after a system of deadly tornadoes battered the southern U.S. for the second day. More extreme conditions are expected, and the severe outbreak threatens 75 million people in the area, the Weather Channel reports. The storms completely devastated neighborhoods in a matter of hours, and even sent meteorologists ducking for cover on live television.
NBC affiliate WTVA-TV chief meteorologist Matt Laubhan was reporting live from a studio in Mississippi when the tornado was fast approaching. On air, he came to the realization that he and his crew were in harm's way, and in a dramatic decision, commanded everyone to get to the basement and evacuate the newsroom.
"This is a tornado ripping through the city of Tupelo as we speak. And this could be deadly," he said in the broadcast. "A damaging tornado. On the ground. Right now."
The station suffered from power issues, but not before coming back on air for viewers to see the evacuation.
"...Now! Basement, Now!" Laubhan shouted to the staff. "Let's go!"
The hardest hit states — Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee — saw at least 11 more people dead Tuesday with reports of at least 50 tornadoes circling the region.
In Mississippi, seven people were reportedly killed, and as many as six in Alabama. Residents in Tennessee were devastated by a 190 m.p.h. twister in Lincoln County that claimed at least two lives. Sadly, the numbers are expected to rise as rescue teams dig through the rubble of buildings that were once homes and schools. The devastation comes just one day after at least 18 people died, with most of the deaths in Alabama.
The state's governor, Robert Bentley, declared a state of emergency for all counties, and the National Weather Service issued a tornado emergency warning for the area, stating: "This is an extremely dangerous tornado. You could be killed if not underground or in a tornado shelter."
Residents in the storm's path are advised to seek shelter in a basement or low interior room, duck under sturdy furniture, and avoid outside walls, windows, and mobile homes. Those outside are encouraged to seek cover in a ditch.
Unfortunately, another round is expected to barrel the south with a repeat performance, according to the Weather Channel. As if the violent conditions weren't enough, flash flooding and thunderstorms are among the threats. Chief meteorologist Kevin Roth says it's "almost identical areas that are under the gun, two days in a row," which is an unusual case for such storm systems.