As He Reported Live on Tornadoes, Some Personal Bad News

James Spann was covering dangerous Alabama twister when he found out his home was in its path
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 26, 2021 10:53 AM CDT
Updated Mar 28, 2021 9:01 AM CDT

Alabamians relied this week on local reporting to keep them abreast of the severe weather pummeling their state, including a series of tornadoes that killed at least five. One meteorologist in particular not only offered coverage of the twisters—he found out while on the air that his own home was in one's path. Per, James Spann, said to be Alabama's most famous TV weatherman, was on the air Thursday covering the tornadoes during a broadcast on ABC 33/40, where he's worked for the past 25 years. Suddenly, as an off-camera Spann warned residents in certain neighborhoods of a "large, destructive, violent tornado" heading their way, his voice-over briefly paused, at which point he calmly explained, "What I'm doing is texting my wife to be sure she's in the shelter," as his home was apparently in the line of the twister. Shortly after, he temporarily left the broadcast, with colleague Taylor Sarallo taking over.

The Washington Post notes Spann was back to report less than 15 minutes later, explaining his wife was fine, but that his house had been hit and damaged. "It's not good, it's bad. It's bad," he noted. Later Thursday evening, Spann posted a pic on social media of the mess in his backyard, complete with downed trees and scattered branches, but he noted his wife survived the storm by hunkering down in their in-home shelter, and that their home was "intact" and wouldn't need to be rebuilt. Instead, he implored fans to think about assisting others who'd suffered much worse damage. Spann, who won an Emmy for covering a 2000 tornado, has also made headlines for his skepticism on climate change. The Post notes that the steadiness of Spann, even after finding out his wife and home were in danger, impressed fans old and new. "Today will solidify James Spann's reputation as the greatest broadcast meteorologist of all time," one wrote. (Read more Alabama stories.)

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