Seemingly minutes after a massive tornado hit, an MSNBC news image showed a speedboat sitting on top of a house in Moore, Okla.
This was followed by scores and scores of homes reduced to something less than rubble.
"Looks like these homes have been put through a blender," said one MSNBC analyst.
Another video image showed a pile of two dozen cars, one on top of each other, in a corner of a shopping center, also destroyed.
The tornado, an F4 or possibly F5 category (the biggest one) twister, had winds of 260 mph to near 300 mph, was about two miles wide and was on the ground for about 40 minutes. Historically, Moore, a suburb south of Oklahoma City, usually sees the worst of tornado alley -- not just in 1999, the last time the city took it on the chin, but for many decades in the past.
This was the news as of late afternoon Central Time yesterday: real-time media, real-time destruction. Yes, citizens hear and see a lot about tornados on TV. But the destruction is always still hard to look at.
Local warnings from local media were issued. No doubt many -- up to the moment they needed to take cover -- were watching local TV stations. Were they using Twitter or Facebook for their real-time media content? Probably not so much before the event. But maybe a lot afterwards, if they had cell phone/Internet access.
Has media evolved to help? In some ways. Better predictive weather models let people know what's coming – including, hopefully, warnings on people's smartphones and computers.
There’s been a lot of talk about the possible demise of local TV stations. But in times of disasters -- manmade, acts of God, or otherwise -- everyone still knows where to turn, even if they have seen it before, real or otherwise. "Stuff was flying everywhere."
It's what I call disaster porn. First, the deluge of on-site videos showing the funnel clouds approach, accompanied by excited anticipatory commentary. Then the "money shots" showing the aftermath. And although they try, it's a challenge for the reporters from the Weather Channel to mask their excitement.