Meteorologist Al Roker got pummeled by angry waves while reporting live on Ida from Lake Pontchartain, New Orleans just hours before the hurricane made landfall on Sunday afternoon. The 67-year-old veteran TV meteorologist was reporting with his TODAY team, when waves slammed him, saving him narrowly from getting swept into the lake.
The action which was captured live on TV soon turned into a viral video clip and made its way to the social media. Since then, the clip has gone viral, with concerned critics asking why someone of Roker's age would risk life to share information he could get from the National Weather Service without leaving the house.
Brush with Death
Roker was reporting with NBC's TODAY team alongside Lake Pontchartain in New Orleans on Sunday afternoon, hours before hurricane Ida made landfall. The hurricane turned into Category 4 and since Friday had careened from Cuba up into the Gulf of Mexico on Friday and led tens of thousands to evacuate their homes.
Winds were blowing at the speed of 150 mph as Roker reported in a full-body wet suit. The sound of the winds fluttering round his jacket and pants could be heard when suddenly waves started roiling behind him and soon crashed down onto his head.
"I guess we lost communication," Roker sputtered at one point to host Chuck Todd, while crushing waves alternately engulfed him and receded back into the water. "It's basically a 15-mile-wide F3 tornado," he added when suddenly huge waves crashed on him. The veteran somehow managed to survive from getting swept by the waves, which could have killed him.
Instagram footage shot from behind the show's crew shows Roker being struck by waves as plastic protecting the crews' camera, lights and equipment flaps loud and fast in the storms' winds.
TODAY co-anchor Hoda Kotb posted a photo on her Instagram that appears to have been taken around the same time as Roker's video, showing him in knee-deep water with a dark sky behind him.
It is not known why Roker risked his life as he himself knew about the severity of the storm. Earlier in the day, he himself had reported about that. "We just got word that this will most likely be one of the top five strongest landfalls ever," shouted Roker in a broadcast aired before 7 am EST this morning.
"It is a beast and just getting stronger," he said. But even then he risked his life.
The clip of the horrifying incident immediately went viral, with many slamming Roker for the risky decision. "Al roker is 67 lmao nbc doing him dirty," Twitter user @iam_johnw2 posted.
Some even thought that Roker may have suffered some broken bones or even died. Some of his followers also started showing concern, which prompted him to post another Instagram video from his hotel room. In the video, Roker films his feet as he strips off his thick rubber boots in a bathtub and water pours out.
"Just got back from Hurricane Ida with heavy boots on and I brought back a little bit of Lake Ponchartrain with me," he can be heard saying.
"For all those who were worried about me out on #lakepontchartrain, a) I volunteered to do this. Part of the job. b) My crew and I were safe and we are back at our hotel and c) for those who think I'm too old to to be doing this, try and keep up," he wrote.