For the second time this winter, a springlike storm in the southeast was Story of the Day. In early February tornadoes plowed through central Florida. Now, on the first day of March, Alabama was hard hit. A super-cell twister wiped out Enterprise High School while its students were still inside. All three networks led with the storm, but it happened so late in the day that none had its own correspondents on the spot.

NBC obtained a stand-up from Bryan Henry (at the tail of the Sanders videostream) of WSFA-TV, its local affiliate based in Montgomery: "The football stadium does not exist any more," he showed us. ABC's Charles Gibson (no link) got on the telephone with Coffee County's emergency manager Larry Walker. "I am curious why the kids were not sent home." "The building is fairly secure and stable as opposed to having hundreds of children in buses out on the roads."

Otherwise storm footage was narrated from a distance. "The school's walls toppled. Its roof flew off," CBS' Mark Strassmann voiced over from Atlanta. Students "huddled together in interior hallways while their school and surrounding neighborhood were pulverized," ABC's Dean Reynolds (subscription required) told us from Chicago. "The warnings were heeded. The sirens were sounded--and people were killed anyway." From Lagrange Ga, NBC's Kerry Sanders added that "victims, still alive, could be trapped in the rubble." The known death toll in Enterprise was eight and another five died at a trailer park elsewhere in the state.

Both CBS and NBC got input from in-house meteorologists. Bill Karins (at the tail of the Sanders videostream) of NBC Weather Plus warned of more storm damage in the south, snows in the north and floods in the east. CBS' Bryan Norcross (no link) called the storm unusually early: "We expect to see super-cell thunderstorms in April and May." CBS' Katie Couric asked whether global warming had exacerbated conditions: "No, I do not think so. This is just part of this extreme situation we have had this winter. Very warm, very cold and so this extreme weather continues."


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