‘Basement. Now,’ Meteorologist orders staff on live TV in tornado

Posted at 7:39 PM, Apr 29, 2014
and last updated 2014-04-29 19:59:37-04

Matt Laubhan, Chief Meteorologist at WTVA, yelled at the crew to evacuate the news studio as a tornado slammed Tupelo, Mississippi, live on TV.

“This is a tornado emergency for Lee County,” Laubhan said moments before the evacuation. “This is a tornado ripping through the city of Tupelo as we speak. And this could be deadly.”

“Basement. Now … let’s go,” Laubhan said to the cew. He eventually joined them.

Forecasters declared a tornado emergency for three counties around Tupelo on Monday afternoon as a line of severe thunderstorms swept through the area, the National Weather Service reported.

Roughly 70 million people were warned of a slight to moderate risk of severe weather in the eastern half of the United States, according to the National Weather Service.

Mississippi and Alabama — where tornadoes Monday caused widespread destruction and several deaths — were again in the bull’s-eye for the worst of Tuesday’s forecast.

Tens of thousands were without power in those two states, where suspected tornadoes tore through homes and businesses late Monday. At least 17 people were killed in Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee on Monday. Those deaths are in addition to 18 others reported in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Iowa from storms Sunday.

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant said the twisters inflicted “severe damage” around the town of Louisville, about 90 miles northeast of Jackson.

Winston Medical Center, Louisville’s major hospital, was among the buildings hit.

In Tupelo, birthplace of Elvis Presley, buildings near a major commercial district on the city’s north side were “wiped away,” Scott Morris, a reporter for the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, told CNN’s “The Lead.”

Numerous trees and power lines were down, and “quite a few buildings are destroyed up there,” Morris said.

The storm destroyed Britney Butler’s home in Tupelo, WMC-TV reported.

“It hurts to look, because I won’t come home tonight,” said Butler, who still managed to smile after discovering her dog had come out unscathed. “Oreo means the most to me.”