Emergency workers, gathered friends & family, as well as the thousands of concerned folks holding an all-night candlelight vigil for WZZM13 meteorologist Lance Doppler, breathed a collective sigh of relief just before dawn this morning, when WOTV’s StormTeam8 arrived on the scene and staged a dramatic rescue. Members of the elite squad raced from their armored van, and ten minutes later, miraculously, StormTeam8 had rescued Doppler, who emerged from the rubble to both cheers and tears from the assembled crowd.
The collapse of WZZM13’s Weather-Deck, occurring just as the station’s newest meteorologist Lance Doppler was delivering the 10-Day Forecast during last night’s live broadcast at 11:14 pm, shocked viewers who watched in real-time as Doppler, the green-screen behind him, the big thermometer, and even the beaker which measures rainfall, all tumbled down and out of sight. Stunned anchors at the News Desk were forced to improvise, and hurried into their Sports report, even as police and firefighters were arriving on the scene. By 11:35, as Jimmy Kimmel began his monologue from Los Angeles, WZZM had already changed their Weather Ball from Green to Black, as a sign of solidarity and respect for their fallen, missing colleague.
Police, and other emergency first-responders, searched frantically throughout the night, and as the sheer scale of the devastation became apparent, even second, third and fourth-responders were called to the scene. After nearly six hours, authorities were reporting no sign of the missing Doppler, who was only three days into his new job at WZZM, and only six days into his very first 10-Day Forecast, when disaster struck. The 23-year-old Lance Doppler, a meteorological prodigy at M.I.T., was WZZM’s first-round draft pic in last year’s Pro-Meteorologist-Draft, and had been in training at the station’s weather-camp, in Orlando, Florida, before being called up to Grand Rapids last week for his forecasting debut in a major media market.
Just as police and firefighters feared they might be running out of both time and options, the StormTeam8 van arrived. Even veteran police officers and firefighters were amazed at how quickly the StormTeam were able to find and rescue Doppler, who emerged smiling and semi-conscious, walking with the help of two StormTeam members, before being rushed to Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital for examination. “It was the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen”, said Police Officer James Krupke. “That StormTeam moves like an elite group of Navy SEALS, and in twenty years on the force, I’ve never seen anyone make use of duct-tape the way they did.” Doppler was released from Butterworth Hospital after receiving treatment for cuts and bruises, a badly sprained ankle, and carpal-tunnel-syndrome (a previously un-diagnosed ailment unrelated to the Weather-Deck collapse).
WZZM Station Manager, Louis P. Grant, acknowledged the station’s debt of gratitude to rival and competitor WOTV. “It’s not every day you see one bitter rival come to the aid of their nemesis, but that’s exactly what we’ve seen here today. That’s what we’re supposed to be about here in America, and thanks to WOTV’s StormTeam8, and their selfless and heroic actions, we can now report last night’s incident as a ‘mishap’, instead of the awful ‘tragedy’ it could have been. Rest assured, however, that we will re-build the Weather-Deck, bigger and better than before, because we all know that a meteorologist standing outside in a parka is far more reliable and accurate than one sitting indoors at a computer screen.”
Interviewed this morning while resting at home, Lance Doppler told The Grand Rapids Press, “I’m fine for the most part, I was incredibly lucky, but my ankle does hurt like a mother-f**ker.” As if Doppler’s ordeal last night wasn’t enough, the Associated Press is now reporting that WZZM has suspended Doppler, pending investigation, for his use of profanity in public, which is in violation of several ethics & behavior clauses in his employment contract. Media pundits, however, speculate that Doppler will get off lightly, and his seven hours buried under a pile of rubble should work in his favor when he appears before the station’s disciplinary committee.