It was Friday, March 24, at nearly 11PM. WTVA’s chief meteorologist Matt Laubhan was broadcasting a live weather forecast. Suddenly, as he was updating the radar map images, he saw to his horror that a tornado was hurtling dangerously towards the town of Amory in the state of Mississippi.
Laubhan was so shocked that he leaned over with his hands on the table, and said a simple spontaneous prayer: “Dear Jesus, please, help them! Amen.” Hundreds of thousands of people were watching, and nearly 900,000 people have since viewed the video on YouTube.
It’s not often that a journalist of any kind prays in public while doing his job. But this event clearly demonstrated the empathy of a meteorologist who serves society by providing weather forecasts and who is able to empathize with those on the other side of the screen. He knew better than most people that there was grave imminent danger.
Praying in public
Laubhan’s prayer surprised the public, and CNN interviewed him afterwards. The CNN reporter said, “We don’t often see or hear meteorologists pray on air, but that is exactly what you did when that tornado was bearing down on the northwest portion of Amory. What were you thinking at the time and what reaction have you received?”
Laubhan’s reply was simple and straightforward:
You know, I can’t say that I was intending on praying. It was the kind of situation where we knew that something extremely bad was happening, when we knew that it was possible, maybe even probable, that people were being hurt and about to die. And I’m very rarely at a loss for words, and I was just feeling a little overwhelmed, honestly, and it just kind of came out.
God took over
“The reaction from the public here in Mississippi in particular has been overwhelmingly positive,” he went on to say. The prayer had a positive effect in more ways than one.
He tells CNN, “In many cases people have told me 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 that God just kind of took over at that moment.”