In college, I had a friend who was studying to be a professional meteorologist. He was a fanatic about the subject, and it was fun to get him to start talking about meteorology because he’d light up and speak with an incredible amount of enthusiasm – and joy. (And come on, you haven’t lived until you’ve watched the movie Twister solely for the comedy of going through all the technical errors!)
Weather disasters are always interesting because in these small cases, the weather, which is often hardly even noticed, becomes a monster with an almost unbelievable amount of power. Many a locale has had its history changed irreversibly due to one of these monster events, and many, many people have died because of them.
My friend, for example, was always fascinated by the power of some of these storms. I don’t think he was the type to do any storm-chasing himself, but even now when storms can be measured and mapped and predicted, almost necessarily, a lot of the might of the storm is measured in the destruction that is left behind. Meteorology aims to help people by allowing people to make better decisions based on what is happening with the weather,
Advances in meteorology have certainly helped save many, many lives, particularly when it comes to catastrophic events such as tornadoes and hurricanes. Although there’s a lot that still a lot that the meteorologists don’t always get right, being able to issue warnings that give people more time to seek safety when these events happen is incredible.
For meteorologists, storms are exciting and they are a reason why the science and profession exist. Yet they – the good ones, at least – do remember that behind all the science and technology, there are people living ordinary lives in little towns who are going to come face to face with something truly terrible.
The embedded tweet is of meteorolgist Matt Laubhan reporting on a tornado’s path in Mississippi last night (March 24, 2023).
As he realizes that the town of Amory, Mississippi is about to get a direct hit by a monster tornado, he breaks script and prays aloud, “Dear Jesus, please help them. Amen”
Six little words. Yet our culture has come to the point where it is so taboo to something like this that it’s even made the international press: Dramatic moment Mississippi meteorologist calls on God as he watches major tornado head straight for the town of Amory (UK Daily Mail). It’s something, that under normal circumstances might endanger his career. The comments are interesting, both at the Daily Mail and at Twitter. Of course, there are the people mocking calling on an “imaginary being”, but I’ve seen quite a few people who claim not to be Christian or religious say that they were moved by this simple prayer. Six little words, plainly and humbly spoken, yet in the face of not being able to do anything else, a call to God to help when there’s nothing else that he can do.
Amory did sustain damage. A local resident, Jay Holman, shot drone footage, some of which can be seen here: https://www.facebook.com/jay.holman.718/posts/pfbid02xvt2bC47Kxor42jV6eJKQ3g2r8K2HjvhoVUqpQKQdBuxyCB555Wv3fyPmp1qcusLl
(A drone video from the same man can be viewed here: https://www.wtva.com/news/local/storm-damage-found-in-winona-and-amory-no-deaths-reported/article_bfaeb4b6-cac6-11ed-a574-dbf4df4bc67d.html)
However, for the most part, Amory is still standing, and the area death toll looks like it is at three.
Contrast this to Rolling Fork, Mississippi, about 200 miles away, where the drone footage shows another town that suffered a direct tornado hit in the same system. The town has basically been wiped off the map:
Storms are fickle things, and there will never be “proof” that Amory’s survival had anything to do with one meteorologist’s prayer. But I am convinced, as surely as the sun shines above, that God hears our prayers and they are most dear to Him when they are the most sincere. This meteorologist, understanding well what a direct hit of a huge tornado means, called out to God in love for these people, despite the fact that many people will publicly ridicule him, and he risked the ire of the place where he worked. I believe his prayer was heard.