A meteorologist had to stop in the middle of his broadcast Thursday night when an emergency alert from the National Weather Service indicated that a tornado warning was in effect for the suburbs outside Washington D.C., where his kids were at home alone.
Doug Kammerer, the chief meteorologist for NBC 4 in D.C., was in the middle of a typical forecast when he realized the potential for something uniquely terrible to happen. He had been offered a warning that his family could be in grave danger and left to choose between ensuring the safety of his kids and maintaining professionalism, Kammerer deftly managed both.
Without skipping a beat as the emergency alert filled the screen behind him, Kammerer pulled out his cell phone and began dialing his son Kent. “As a matter of fact I’m tracking this so closely now,” the weatherman said as interacted with a monitor off screen, “this is gonna go, this is gonna go right over…right over my house, so very close to my house.”
#Working4You When a tornado warning sounded last night, Storm Team4 Chief Meteorologist @dougkammerer was working to keep you informed and safe — just like his own family. https://t.co/1iV3XQHB0q pic.twitter.com/xZZrDOWCC6
— NBC4 Washington (@nbcwashington) April 1, 2022
Kammerer laid out the specific streets within the Chevy Chase area that the tornado was predicted to touch down in before it appeared his son had picked up, “Kent, you there, buddy?”
“Yeah,” his son could be heard responding on the other end of the line.
“Hey man,” the concerned father continued while maintaining his composure, “I want you to get down in the basement. We got a tornado warning. Alright, so I wanna make sure you and Cally get downstairs as soon as you can, OK?”
“Right now?” Kent asked for clarification.
“Yeah, get down there right now. Get in the bedroom down there. And just kind of wait for like 10-15 minutes. OK? Do it now. Alright. Thanks, Buddy,” he expressed before ending the call, setting down his phone and explaining to viewers the importance of heeding these types of warnings.
“Gotta warn my kids, because I know what my kids are doing right now. They’re probably online gaming and they’re not seeing this,” Kammerer stated. “So we have a tornado warning. Hopefully, they saw it on their phones. Many of us got it on our phones. In the newsroom, I heard the phones go off.”
He later shared a recording of the broadcast that a viewer had posted to social media that he captioned, “Yes, had to warn my family! Kids were home alone and I knew they were not watching me on TV! They are safe. Thank you!”
“Scary moment for me though, I was freaking out inside a bit,” he concluded earnestly.
“We have had tornado warning before,” Kammerer told AccuWeather, “but I was always able to text my wife or call them off-air. This was the first time I had to make the call live. My wife was not home, so my kids were home alone and I knew they would not be paying attention. Fortunately, we were all safe and no one was injured by this tornado.”
An EF-0 tornado impacted a small area in Tysons Corner, Virginia last night. For more information visit https://t.co/3Aetnvysh7. pic.twitter.com/kqco7ecXXQ
— NWS Baltimore-Washington (@NWS_BaltWash) April 1, 2022
AccuWeather further reported on an incident like this one that had occurred in April 2021 when ABC 33/40 chief meteorologist James Spann walked off-camera during coverage of a long-track tornado in Alabama. When he came back on screen he reported, “My wife is OK, but the tornado came right through there and it’s not good, it’s bad. It’s bad.”
In addition to the support from his team at NBC 4 who wrote, “When a tornado warning sounded last night, Storm Team4 Chief Meteorologist @dougkammerer was working to keep you informed and safe – just like his own family,” the weatherman’s earnest reaction garnered a great deal of support from viewers at home.
You are clearly a pro, at meteorology and at parenting. Thanks for being both professional and human. You set a fine example of both.
— VirusesDon’tCareAboutYrPolitics (@Nevhodzrcadlo) April 1, 2022
We need to normalize this behaviour! Family comes first, like you said the kids aren’t watching the news, I hope other parents in the station called their kids too.
— RG | Nova Rift (@novarift) April 1, 2022
That’s how you know it’s serious weather when your meteorologist is calling his kids
— Jarlent (@MitchellAHorton) April 1, 2022
You did the right stuff. Our families come first
— John B Creel JR (@wb3gxwham) April 1, 2022
Absolute respect! Glad your kids are safe, and thanks for all that you do to help keep our community safe!
— mt (@_socialcat) April 1, 2022
Well done, my friend. pic.twitter.com/W6BfH5RX7Z
— Meteorologist Brian James (@BrianJamesWx) April 1, 2022
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