COMMENTS: Memorable Tornado on Memorial Day

If it were not for the search for life on Mars and severe weather on Earth, Memorial Day would have been a news holiday as well as a national holiday. All three networks had substitute anchors introduce their newscasts, whose content was otherwise loaded with a mixture of holiday fare and military tributes. NBC used Lester Holt; ABC had George Stephanopoulos; Russ Mitchell was on CBS. They were unanimous about the Story of the Day. All three led with the tornadoes that continue to batter the great plains.

A storm system that started on Thursday with twisters in Colorado stalled over the plains all weekend, causing havoc in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. Monday's headlines were created by killer twisters in Parkersburg Iowa and Hugo Minn, a suburb of St Paul. Jeff Ranieri of NBC Weather Plus explained that a front had been stationary for five days, causing turbulence as warm moist air from the Gulf of Mexico confronted an "enhanced jetstream." ABC led off with Eric Horng (embargoed link) in Iowa: "Parkersburg, in every sense, was a small town. There was one high school, one grocery store and two banks. Today they are all gone." NBC handed the chores to Sonya Heitsusen of WHO-TV, its Des Moines affiliate. CBS had Priya David narrate the videotape from New York. She noted that the 110 killed by 800 twisters so far this tornado season represents the biggest death toll since 1998, even as "meteorologists point out the most active part of tornado season is still to come."


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