More Empathy Needed On Social Media and Weather Warnings
Every year at this time, I reflect back on that horrifying April day in 2014. It changed many of you, it changed this state, it changed those directly affected, and I changed.
Part of being a weather geek is the adrenaline rush which comes with weather extremes. Whether it's covering the rare burst of heavy thundersnow, thundersleet, hurricanes, or severe weather; it's why many of us have the passion for weather. Watching Mother Nature demonstrate the power we only read about unleashed before our eyes is mesmerizing. We want to watch more of it and we want to cover more of it on TV, social media, or whatever avenue we can find.
The information we give can be life saving, but it can also be paralyzing for others.
Some of you may know the Tittle family. Kerry Tittle lost her husband and 2 kids in the blink of an eye on April 27th, 2014 when an EF4 tornado hit their western Pulaski county home. Her life was shredded faster than any of us can imagine. Ever since that day, thunder rattles their nerves and just the thought of severe weather can be crippling.
This past December 10th, Kerry was with her family in Branson, MO when the county was placed under a tornado warning. It was doppler indicated, and to the best of my knowledge, never developed. An employee of the hotel knocked on doors to alert the guests of a tornado warning and encouraged them to go into the hallways. Kerry and her family chose not to leave the room. She put her two younger sons in the bathtub while her 14-year-old daughter crawled under the sink, but quickly crawled back out and began vomiting. The youngest son, wide-eyed with fear, asked if this was the day he was going to die like his daddy did. This is the struggle few of us will ever understand and the Tittle family must cope with all the time.
While I hope time heals those wounds, it's time all of us reflect on the enormous impacts of our warnings, predictions, and voice on social media/TV. We must give the warnings and try our best to save lives. At the same time, keep those who are in deep pain in our thoughts. We need more empathy. We need everyone to understand there are families like the Tittles all over this country who need accurate warning, calming voices, and certainty that it's all going to be ok.
If you have a moment, please read this blog post from Meteorologist James Spann with our sister station ABC 33/40 in Birmingham, Alabama.