LESLIE CRISS: Stormy night spent with Laubhan quells fear, anxiety

“The storm starts, when the drops start dropping

When the drops stop dropping then the storm starts stopping.”

Dr. Seuss

“On cable TV they have a weather channel – 24 hours of weather. We had something like that where I grew up. We called it a window.”

Dan Spencer

“It’s time to get to your safe place …”

Matt Laubhan




Growing up, I paid little attention to television weather prognosticators. Except for Bob Neblett.

He was the Reddy Kilowatt weatherman on Channel 12 out of Jackson when I was a child.

My paternal grandfather was a fan of Neblett’s. And of Reddy Kilowatt too. Granddaddy was district manager of Mississippi Power & Light in Grenada for years, and the electricity-limbed Reddy was sort of their mascot.

In my child’s memory, Bob Neblett used what looked like a pool cue as a pointer and also ate Seale-Lilly ice cream from time to time on air.

Truth is, I lived with my very own weatherman for decades.

Francis Criss, my father, has always been the person I trusted most when it came to the weather. If he said it was going to snow, it snowed.

If he said it was OK to plant my garden, then plant I did, with no fear of late freezes or unfortunate floods.

Two weeks ago, however, I was home alone, sound asleep with three tired dogs. Suddenly my cell phone sounded an alarm as never before. I squinted to see without my bifocals and made out the words, “Tornado Warning.”

I am normally not frightened by bad weather, but I do have a healthy respect for it.

Before I grabbed all three pups and headed to the basement, I reached for the remote and turned on WTVA.

Matt Laubhan and other members of the crew were up in the wee hours of the morning and staying on top of everything. And that particular night, being on top of everything was a major task.

After watching and listening to Matt for 30 minutes or so, I was no longer afraid. I was convinced I did not need to venture into the basement, where I have not been in quite a while since my roommate found a mouse.

Within the next hour, George, Thom and Sally settled down and we said goodnight to Matt. I turned off the television and the lights, and eventually went back to sleep.

The next day at work here at the Daily Journal, I was not the only one to mention the name of Matt Laubhan and what an amazing job he did – does – keeping us calm and informed during some awfully unnerving times. The young man has found his calling, I’d say.

Northeast Mississippi and Tupelo are fortunate to have him keeping an eye on the weather, and looking out for us, as well.

Thanks, Matt. You are appreciated.


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