Al Roker is apologizing for a recent comment he made about Hurricane Michael, which devastated the Florida Panhandle last fall.
The “Today” weather anchor was on-air speaking about Tropical Storm Barry’s estimated rainfall and wind gusts in Lousianna, Mississippi and other nearby states on Friday when he compared it to Hurricane Michael — a Category 5 storm that caused a number of fatalities. Roker referred to Michael as a “Category 3 or 4 storm.”
He described Barry as “a massive storm in size, 800 miles across, almost across the entire Gulf Coast.”
“In comparison, Hurricane Michael .. was a Category 3 or 4 storm, even almost reaching a 5, and that caused all that damage.”
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Roker then shared his coverage on Facebook, where people immediately demanded an apology over his comment, which they felt diminished the impacts of Michael.
Wrote one person: “‘Do not pay attention to category’… those words proceeding you saying Michael was a 3 or 4… maybe 5. Michael was a 5. Not a maybe 5. While we in the Panhandle are definitely all feeling and praying for the area to be impacted by TS Barry, we don’t appreciate the brush off of just how bad Hurricane Michael was. You owe this area a public apology for the slap in the face you just gave us.”
Another individual said: “You owe everyone here in the Florida Panhandle an apology for downplaying Hurricane Michael! Nine months later and there’s still devastation!”
Then there was this: “Al Roker spend about 1 hour of your day today to educate yourself on Hurricane Michael (Cat 5). View the videos and stories of devastation. For you to come across as to downplay Michael as a Cat 3 maybe a 4 was truly shocking. Our hearts understand and aches for Louisiana. Prayers.”
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In response, Roker tweeted an apology one day later on Twitter, admitting that he “misspoke.”
“Yes. Michael was Cat. 5 and I misspoke during yesterday’s broadcast during live TV. I covered it and came down to help bring aid to folks and first responders after. So I apologize for the mistake,” he wrote.
Michael, a rare Category 5 hurricane, was the first to strike the contiguous U.S. since Andrew in 1992.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.