DAY 4 | Live on Air
An exclusive interview with Topper Shutt of WUSA 9 News in DC, the only station live during the event
Topper’s Interview and Story by: Josh Owens (MWC)
Topper Shutt, Tony Pann, and Howard Bernstein of WUSA 9 were the face of the information on the 28th by providing the only LIVE coverage of the storm as it progressed into the Charles County area. As a matter of fact, they began coverage of the storm around 4pm as the cell was in Shenandoah County Virginia.
Before all this unfolded, the WUSA Weather team was on the case on that Friday, the 26th. They began to mention and discuss the threat for severe weather across their viewing area, including southern Maryland. They knew that the threat was big for something tornado or severe related was possible, but Topper didn’t see an F4 potential. On Sunday, Topper and Tony were in constant contact about the unfolding tornado watch and how the system was unfolding as a whole.
Back to the 28th, the storm was making progress into northern Virginia. By the time the storm had its first tornado warning at 4pm, Topper had just arrived into the station getting ready to help tag-team with Tony on air. The storm had put down a tornado and with that, WUSA sent out Howard Bernstein to help with coverage in the field. Bernstein chased the storm all the way to the Potomac when it crossed over to Charles County.
By that time it was 7:00pm…the time the killer tornado touched down. When I asked Mr. Shutt what the reaction was to seeing a cell like this, he said: “We saw it and all we could say was…’wow’…we went in live and told LaPlata that they were under the gun.” He went on to tell me that he had never seen anything like this in the Mid-Atlantic, this was something that was classic in the Midwest.
As he looks back, he has to put thanks into the fact that good preparation put into this event. The team was discussing this many days in advance. “To say that its luck, or that we were ‘lucky’ may be true to an extent, but it’s mostly the preparation we had” said Mr. Shutt.
For Topper personally, it was the most remarkable and memorable thing he has every covered while in the DC area. “It was something you don’t see in this kind of area” he said, “There are parameters that define Midwest severe weather, and it’s different from the Mid-Atlantic, so you have a new set of rules” To him, along with the rest of the meteorology community, this was something you see in Oklahoma. He was truly in awe of what he saw that day…a day he soon wont forget.