2 journalists killed covering Subtropical Storm “Alberto” in North Carolina

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A news anchor and a photojournalist working for WYFF were killed by a downed tree while covering Subtropical Storm “Alberto” in North Carolina on Monday, May 28, 2018.

Two television journalists working for NBC affiliate WYFF of Greenville, South Carolina – anchor Mike McCormick and photojournalist Aaron Smeltzer – were killed in North Carolina’s Polk County on May 28 after a tree fell on their vehicle while driving on U.S. Highway 176 near Tryon.

The journalists were covering flooding and severe weather associated with Subtropical Storm “Alberto” and had just interviewed Tryon Fire Chief Geoffrey Tennant. They told Tennant to be careful with Alberto’s remnant expected to bring more heavy rains and mudslides this week. He told them to be careful too, the AP reported.

“Ten minutes later we get the call and it was them,” Tennant said at a news conference.

Tennant does not directly blame the up to 50 mm (2 inches) of rain that fell Monday from the fringes of Alberto for the deaths. He said the roots of the 91-cm (3-foot) diameter tree were loosened in ground saturated by a week’s worth of rain.

Pre-season Subtropical Storm “Alberto,” the first named storm of the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season, made landfall on Florida’s north-western coast near Laguna Beach in Florida on Monday, May 28, which was also the Memorial Day holiday in the United States. Its maximum sustained winds at the time of landfall were 75 km/h (45 mph) and minimum central pressure of 994 hPa.

The storm has since weakened to a subtropical depression, with maximum winds of 55 km/h (35 mph) and sustained heavy rainfall, the US National Hurricane Centre said.

States of emergency were declared in Florida, Alabama and Mississippi ahead of the storm’s potential impacts.

Before it hit U.S. Gulf Coast, Alberto’s outer bands dumped more than 300 mm (11.8 inches) on Cuba, causing rivers and reservoirs to overflow and forcing authorities to evacuate about 20 000 people.

The storm shut down railroad service, an oil refinery and parts of the country’s national highway.

Featured image credit: WYFF

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