The sudden arrival of a passing tornado in North Carolina abruptly interrupted WFMY’s 5 p.m. broadcast as soon as it began.
While buildings around it were completely destroyed, the WFMY station itself was merely sideswiped by the tornado. Witnesses described “loud sounds and power flashes,” along with the snap of utility poles.
Meteorologist Terran Kirksey said that “it was nerve-wracking,” and while he had “covered tornadoes on-air since 2010,” it was “the first time one impacted [his] station.”
One person has been confirmed dead in the tornado’s wake after a falling tree crushed him inside his vehicle.
For hours beforehand, WFMY had been tracking the tornado. Its Facebook Live stream had, in fact, been watching it for some time. “We were in the line of this storm. We’d been on Facebook Live with our viewers for about four hours tracking the line,” chief meteorologist Tim Buckley said. “The tornado warning was issued about one minute before we took massive power hits at our station.”
After the tornado had moved on, WFMY resumed broadcasting. Buckley said that while the team had “never been in that position before,” seeing what “viewers might be going through when storms are heading their way” was helpful to the network.