'Dear Jesus...': Mississippi meteorologist Matt Laubhan prays on-air for deadly tornado victims

'Dear Jesus...': Mississippi meteorologist Matt Laubhan prays on-air for deadly tornado victims
WTVA's Matt Laubhan became extremely emotional as he was reporting on the tornado that was heading straight toward Amory (@eduardokenya/Twitter)

SHARKEY COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI: In a dramatic moment, a Mississippi meteorologist started to pray while witnessing a tornado with a mile-wide path crash into a small town. WTVA's Matt Laubhan became emotional while covering the tornado that was barreling directly toward Amory, 100 miles west of Birmingham just before 11 pm on Friday, March 24.

"Here's the thing about this, y'all trust me too much," the Kansas-born meteorologist said on air. "I tell you where it's going to go and some of you guys are like: 'That's where it's gonna go.' The reality of this, this could be changing direction. So, Amory, we need to be in our safe place."


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Who is Matt Laubhan?

Matt Laubhan is the WTVA Weather Authority's Emmy-winning Chief Meteorologist (@MattWTVA/Twitter)

Matt Laubhan is the WTVA Weather Authority's Emmy-winning Chief Meteorologist and the region's first Certified Broadcast Meteorologist. Matt is originally from Russell, Kansas, and graduated from the University of Kansas with a Bachelor of Science degree in Atmospheric Science.

Laubhan spent seven years forecasting for TV stations in Lubbock, Texas, after graduation, before moving to Tupelo in 2011. The meteorologist and the WTVA Weather Authority Team have received numerous awards and accolades over the years, including official recognition from the Mississippi State Senate for their life-saving severe weather coverage, as per WTVA. Laubhan and his wife, WTVA anchor Emily Leonard, have two children, Penny, 7, and Leo, 5, as per Daily Journa


What did Matt Laubhan do on air?


The meteorologist scarcely glanced up at the camera as he focused intently on the radar. Laubhan, a father of two, became more upset and leaned down on the table for support as a "new scan" entered the news station. "Oh man, North side of Amory, this is coming in," he stated. "Oh, man. Dear Jesus, please help them. Amen." The Emmy-winning weatherman continued on to predict that it would reach Highway 6, which heads into town, in "20 seconds."


Tornado killed 23 people

The tornado claimed the lives of 23 people throughout the state, including several residents of Monroe County, where Amory is situated, including a father and his daughter who were seeking shelter at home. His wife and the other two children survived but were hospitalized. 13 people died as a result of the weather in Rolling Fork. "The damage is tremendous," Sharkey County Coroner Angelia Eason stated to NBC News. "It’s awful."

30 million people were under a tornado alert

Heavy damage was done to a gas station in Amory, and there were big pieces of wood lying around on the ground, along with other trash. There was also significant flooding in the region along with numerous downed tree limbs that blocked roads and littered the sides of roads. At least 24 tornadoes, including at least one enormous one-mile-wide tornado traveling at 135 mph, tore through the area on Friday night, destroying homes, tearing off roofs, and downing power lines, trapping people under the debris and knocking out electricity for thousands of people. Through the evening, more than 30 million people were under a tornado alert and cautioned to prepare for the deadly storms that brought golf ball-sized hail. 



Silver City and Rolling Fork were both hit by a tornado, which was confirmed by the National Weather Service (NWS). A resident of Rolling Fork referred to it as being "obliterated." "I've never seen anything like this," Brandy Showah said to CNN. "This was a very great small town, and now it's gone." According to county coroner Angelia Easton, 13 fatalities have so far been officially reported in Sharkey County, which is located about 60 miles northwest of Jackson and is home to Rolling Fork.


'That prayer he said really moved me'

The internet quickly reacted after Matt Laubhan's video was widely circulated. A user tweeted, "Damn I just cried." Another user said, "I’m thrilled he did I would have also!" One person noted, "I’m not remotely religious and that prayer he said really moved me. He deeply cares and hopes he can help." Another claimed, "Was watching him live when this happened. Sent chills down my spine. What's most terrifying is how he was just talking 10-15 minutes before this about how that supercell had weakened, but he had a strong feeling it was going to strengthen up again. When it did, it did FAST."







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 Meteorologist Matt Laubhan breaks down on-air over Mississippi tornado