Illinois viewers watched a news program late Sunday night when a local broadcast station aired a segment about severe weather as heavy rain flooded the studio.
Severe thunderstorms hit central Illinois with hail as big as chicken eggs, lightning and heavy rain. The National Weather Service (NWS) of Lincoln, Illinois shared a series of tweet who warned locals of possible flash floods from driving rains and threats of “a tornado or two”. The NWS advised residents to “prepare to seek immediate shelter”.
WCIA, a Champaign-based broadcast channel serving the central Illinois region, shared storm footage in a very literal way as studio staff waded through water reaching their ankles.
“There’s literally a lake. There’s a lake that’s in the studio right now because of all the heavy rain that’s come in here,” meteorologist Kevin Lighty said. on the waves on the Sunday evening show.
Lighty interrupted the broadcast as staff moved furniture and equipment out of reach of the flood.
“Sorry, guys. Oh my God. Oh my God, yeah, OK,” he said. “Well, our water always comes in here and it’s even worse out back.”
Lighty went on to explain that there were “several inches” of water in the studio. Then viewers heard Lighty ask someone off-screen, “Is that in the newsroom?”
Lighty returned to share that the flooding had dispersed throughout the studio, including the newsroom and control room.
“I can’t believe we’re still able to do what we’re doing here right now,” he said.
Lighty said footage shown online was cut short by the flooding, but TV footage was still available. The segment shared clips of staff moving through water in the newsroom and other areas of the studio.
“Oh my God, what a mess we’re dealing with here,” Lighty said. “We always broadcast here with you guys. We want to bring you the best possible coverage here.”
lightly said Newsweek the flood came very quickly.
“I was on air and I looked to my right and saw water coming in and I thought, ‘Who spilled a drink?’ And it just kept happening,” he said.
After the floods, Lighty said Newsweek that the water was about an inch away from damaging critical equipment.
“One more inch of water, which is equivalent to about 15 minutes of heavy rain, we would have been immediately out of the air and it would have ruined some really important equipment that probably would have kept us from broadcasting for a few weeks,” he said.
However, according to the station’s chief engineer, the team was never at risk of electrocution because the cables were not hit by the water. While Lighty was on the air, other staff members rushed to pick up any equipment from the ground to prevent damage.
Monday night, Lighty tweeted photos of some of the damage in the newsroom.
“Making another studio assessment @WCIA3 where we found on our green screen a line of clear water around a foot,” Lighty tweeted.
slightly too tweeted a video of his colleagues working Monday despite the roar of fans drying up the studio.
“Gotta give it to my colleagues in the @WCIA3 newsroom who have been working all day with these fans non-stop blowing after the deluge,” Lighty tweeted. “The news doesn’t stop, neither do we.”
Update 9/20/22, 11:24 AM ET: This story has been updated with commentary from Kevin Lighty.