Interrupting Golf For Tornadoes

By: Stephanie Shoop -- News Director
By: Stephanie Shoop -- News Director

Eight people were injured in Sunday's tornadoes and more than 70 structures were damaged or destroyed.

Sunday's severe storms caused eight injuries in Eastern Carolina. Two of the victims were rushed to the hospital with critical injuries.

At least three tornado touchdowns have been confirmed.

More than two dozen structures were damaged or destroyed in Onslow County. Another 50 structures were damaged or destroyed in Bertie County.

Sunday's storms came from the same system that killed 22 people in the Midwest and Deep South. There was the potential it could be as severe here in Eastern Carolina as it was in the Midwest and Deep South.

We were well aware that the Tournament Players Championship was airing Sunday and some viewers had been following it all weekend. We worked hard to get the word out about the storms without disrupting programming as much as possible.

Here's an example of an e-mail WITN received. As you can see, it was sent at 6:45 p.m. Sunday.

"Sent: Sunday, May 11, 2008 6:45 PM
To: witn@witntv.com
Subject:

Enough is ENOUGH!!! Put the golf tourney back on...until a tornado ACTUALLY happens...we get it! Good lord"

Well, a tornado was actually happening. It touched down at roughly 6:57 p.m.  Our job is to give people warning before a tornado touches down, so they can protect themselves. Certainly, we follow a tornado's path when it is on the ground to give that information. But the warning in advance of the storm is just as critical, to give you time to prepare.

We go live on the air when there is urgent, timely information viewers need to know immediately.  The meteorologists can give you far more potentially life-saving information than the crawl on the bottom of the screen, to alert you of the danger. The crawl is then used as a constant reminder that dangerous weather is approaching or in your community and for additional updates of that information.

We work very hard to balance our coverage and program interruptions. But when a life-threatening situation is developing or happening, our plan remains to notify viewers of the information they need to know with text crawls or live reports on the air.

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