Video of a Tupelo, Miss., meteorologist went viral after he prayed live on-air Friday evening while watching radar images of a deadly tornado approaching a small community.
Meteorologist Matt Laubhan of WTVA-TV was keeping viewers updated on a tornado warning with live radar images Friday when one particular radar image caused him to pause. The image showed the tornado heading straight toward the town of Amory, which has a population of about 6,500 people.
“Oh, man,” he uttered, disturbed by the radar image. “Dear Jesus, please help them. Amen,” he said.
“Dear Jesus please help them.”— Denny Burk (@DennyBurk) March 27, 2023
Meteorologist Matt Laubhan voices a brief prayer on the air as he warns about tornado moving through Mississippi last week.
Laubhan then continued his coverage, telling viewers the tornado would cross a highway in Amory as well as a bridge.
Earlier in the broadcast, Laubhan had warned viewers that the storm had produced a “strong life-threatening tornado” and was approaching Amory, although he acknowledged he did not know how close it would come to the town.
“Here's the thing about this – y'all trust me too much,” he said. “I tell you where it goes – and some of you are like, ‘That's where it's gonna go.’ But the reality is, is that this could be changing directions.”
Laubhan then prayed after he got new radar scans that showed the worst-case scenario.
The tornado killed 25 in Mississippi, although none were reported in Amory, according to the local police. There were some injuries in the town.
Amory was without clean drinking water due to a direct hit on the water treatment plant, the Clarion Ledger reported.
Laubhan told CNN the prayer wasn’t planned.
“I can't say that I was intending on praying,” Laubhan told CNN. “It was kind of a situation where we knew something extremely bad was happening. And we knew that it was possible, maybe even probable, that people were being hurt and about to die. And I very rarely am at a loss for words, and I was just feeling a little bit overwhelmed, honestly. And it just kind of came out. And the reaction from the public here in Mississippi, in particular, has been overwhelmingly positive. In many cases, people told me that it helped them to realize the seriousness of the situation. And I'd like to say it was something I intended on doing, but I think God just kind of took over at that moment.”
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Scott Olson/Staff
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.