An Alabama TV weatherman who was tracking a massive tornado learned live on-air that his house was in the direct path of the storm and stepped away to text his wife to ensure she made it to shelter.
ABC 33/40 meteorologist James Spann was in the middle of warning residents of Shelby County to take the shelter on Thursday as deadly twisters ravage the state.
But he had to step away when he realized that the storm he was watching was heading directly for his own home and his wife Karen.
As the broadcast switched to a live feed of the tornado, Spann can be heard saying: ‘What I’m doing is texting my wife to be sure she’s in the shelter.’
Reporters in the ABC 33/40 newsroom managed to contact his wife, who told them: ‘Oh, it’s a miracle. A huge tree just missed our house!’
She added: ‘It’s unbelievable! There is so much damage everywhere.’
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Spann confirms to viewers after returning to the broadcast that his home was struck by the storm ‘the reason I had to step out, we had major damage at my house,’ he said
Spann later shared a photo of his backyard to viewers ‘It’s been a rough day. Very rough day.’
As the broadcast switched to a live feed of the tornado, Spann can be heard saying ‘What I’m doing is texting my wife to be sure she’s in the shelter’. James and Karen Spann are pictured.
After passing the broadcast over to his colleague, Spann returned and offered viewers an update on his wife and home.
‘The reason I had to step out, we had major damage at my house,’ he said. ‘My wife is okay, but the tornado came right through there and it’s not good, it’s bad. It’s bad.’
Later in the broadcast Spann shared a photo of the damage the storm caused to his backyard.
‘I’ll shoot straight with you guys, that’s my backyard,’ he told viewers. ‘It’s been a rough day. Very rough day.’
He shared that his wife sheltered in place and was safe.
Spann said that although there was damage to the backyard, his home was intact.
‘My wife got the warning, she had a plan, she was in the shelter and she’s fine,’ he said.
‘Obviously our landscaping is going to be a lot different now. We lost a lot of trees. We’ve had obviously some shingle damage, but the house is intact, it’s OK.’
Spann reassured viewers that his wife was safe but that his property suffered damage from the passing storm
The storm caused severe damage to properties in Greensboro, but Spann said his own house was not damaged
Alabama meteorologist James Spann switches to a live feed of the storm as he text his wife to make sure she was in shelter
When the Spanns built their home, James had insisted it have a strong storm shelter that could withstand tornados, according to ABC 33/40.
Spann asked viewers to help those who had faced severe loss in the wake of the storm.
‘My ask is that you consider helping those that are homeless tonight, that have lost their homes. those that have relatives who lost their lives, that are in the hospital tonight.’
A total of eight tornadoes have been confirmed in Alabama, according to the National Weather Service
At least five people have died as a result of the storms, including a family-of-three.
The confirmed deaths were in Calhoun County, in the eastern part of the state, where one of multiple twisters sprang from a ‘super cell’ of storms that later moved into Georgia, said John De Block, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service (NWS) in Birmingham.
The Storm Prediction Center on Thursday afternoon had issued a ‘particular dangerous situation’ tornado watch until 8pm CT for about 5.5 million people in parts of Alabama, northwest Georgia, Mississippi and southern Tennessee.
The advisory is issued when there’s high confidence that multiple strong tornadoes of EF-2 strength, which has wind speeds of 111 to 135mph, or higher will occur in the watch area.
Spann tweeted ‘Had a scare today. As I often say, tornadoes happen to real people, at a real place, at a real time.’
Spann later went on Twitter and offered an update on his home and thanked people for their kindness.
‘Many thanks to all of you who have reached out to me; a tornado produced damage at our home today,’ he tweeted. ‘My wife was home when it hit, but she got the warning, was in our in-home shelter, and is fine. While we lost many trees, the home is intact and we will be not have to ‘rebuild’.’
‘Please consider helping others across the state who have much more serious damage.. some have lost their homes and are homeless tonight. Thanks again for your kindness.’ his tweet read.