CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) - Many people in western Massachusetts well remember what they were doing in the afternoon two years ago on June first, 2011. Many of us were watching meteorologists Brian Lapis and Nick Bannin's live coverage of severe storms and a tornado warning.
That's when those of us watching the coverage saw a tornado form and touch down on live television, and Lapis' narration of what he saw. "There you see it! There it is! We've got debris on the ground. Tornado on the ground right now. You're seeing it live on 22News. Tornado on the ground, in the area of Agawam. Get inside. Get into your basement right now! Agawam, Longmeadow, Springfield. Tornado on the ground here. You're seeing it live here on 22NEWS! This is a very dangerous storm."
At that time, 22News Storm Team meteorologists Brian Lapis and Nick Bannin had been on the air continuously for an hour tracking severe storms and a tornado warning, when it all changed in a matter of moments.
"And Nick and I , together, saw that wall cloud rotate and BOOM! Right in front of our eyes. This Funnel cloud drops, and we start seeing debris in the Merrick Section of West Springfield. And here it comes right across the river," Lapis said.
Nick Bannin said, at that moment, his coverage of the event changed. "Call your friends! Call your family!" Bannin paraphrased what he recalls saying at the time, "If you're inside watching us now, and you're in West Springfield, Springfield and points East, get in a basement. Get in an interior room! It no longer became the weather forecasting aspect so much as it was the here's safety information... DO IT! ... aspect."
Lapis said he took a personal moment and consciously told himself he needed to focus."I need to be relaxed. And I need to make sure that everybody knows what's happening several minutes ahead of wherever the storm is going. So I started listing off a cluster of towns that were to the east of the Connecticut River, telling people to get to a safe place. It was very surreal!" Lapis said.