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Hurricane Ian, flying tree branch bring Jim Cantore to his knees

The veteran storm reporter was hit by debris while reporting in southern Florida

In this Oct. 29, 2011, file photo, The Weather Channel host, Jim Cantore goes live from Commonwealth Avenue behind the Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa. A Florida county threatened by Hurricane Michael is warning a television meteorologist to stay away.John C. Whitehead

The Weather Channel meteorologist known for chasing catastrophe was brought to his knees Wednesday while covering Hurricane Ian.

Jim Cantore was reporting live for TWC in Punta Gorda, Fla., just north of Cayo Costa, where Ian made landfall around 3 p.m. as a Category 4 hurricane. The cyclone peaked with 150-mile-per-hour winds, leaving it tied as the fourth-strongest storm (with Charley, 2004; the Florida Keys, 1919) ever to land in Florida.

Standing in the middle of the street in the city where Charley struck in 2004, Cantore had spoken earlier in the broadcast about the risk of flying debris when a pole appeared to fly closely past him. And later, while standing in the same spot, a wind gust pushed him back a few feet causing him to say, “Just me flying by.”

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A few moments later, a flying tree branch struck him, making him grunt like a boxer taking a punch to the gut during a live broadcast with TWC storm specialist Carl Parker. After a few quiet moments, Cantore fought the wind to grab a nearby street sign and said, “Alright, you know what, I think I’m just going to come in here a second.”

An off-screen person asked “Jim, are you alright,” and the veteran broadcaster said, “I’m alright, I just can’t stand up.”

Cantore eventually reached his cameraman and said, “I’m just, I’m going to let you guys look at the pictures, OK? And I’m going to stand behind this wall a little bit. I’m getting blown over. I’ve got a long week ahead of me with coverage.”

“We can have a conversation when you’re under some cover,” Parker said, once Cantore was out of the street. “That’s too much. We’re going to give Jim a break there.”

Cantore briefly lent his voice to the broadcast off-screen before returning to the air report live from a parking garage where his TV crew were riding out the storm. He said that the reason he goes out in the storms is to teach people about the dangers associated with these types of storms.

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In May 2018, anchor Mike McCormick and photojournalist, Aaron Smeltzer, were reporting for WYFF-TV in Greenville, S.C., when a tree smashed their truck while they were out reporting on weather generated by Subtropical Storm Alberto. The two men were killed, authorities and the news station reported.

In May 2013, three men — Tim Samaras, 55, his son Paul Samaras, 24, and his colleague Carl Young, 45 — known for the Discovery Channel show, “Storm Chasers,” died when they were caught in a tornado that swallowed their car, SmithsonianMag.com reported.


Carlos Muñoz can be reached at carlos.munoz@globe.com. Follow him @ReadCarlos and on Instagram @Carlosbrknews.