We Love Weather Exclusive

Mike Bettes Reflects on His Experience Inside Irma’s Eyewall

Millions of people across the country were fixated on The Weather Channel’s Hurricane Irma coverage when meteorologist Mike Bettes reported live from inside Irma’s intense eyewall. We asked Bettes to set the record straight about what that moment was like and what he wants to say to the people who were concerned for his safety.

First of all, how are you doing after your long and intense time covering Hurricane Irma?

I’m doing really well after being in Hurricane Irma. It was a wild experience.

Of every hurricane you’ve covered in the field, where does Irma rank in terms of severity?

As far as wind goes, Irma was tops. During my live reports from Naples, FL, the wind gusts were measured at 142mph. Irma nearly knocked me off my feet a few times.

The nation was captivated during your live broadcast from the eyewall of Irma. What does it feel like to be in those sort of conditions?

It’s hard to explain what it feels like being in a hurricane. It seems like for every step forward, the wind pushes you two steps back. There are times you almost have to crawl so you won’t get blown over. Every now and then there will be a really intense gust that you’re not expecting and it knocks the wind out of you. If it’s raining during the intense gusts, you have to close your eyes or wear eye protection because the raindrops feel like needles hitting your skin.

Had you ever done a live report from a hurricane’s eyewall before?

I was in the eye wall of Hurricane Ivan in 2004 in Pensacola, FL. That was a scary hurricane because it made landfall at night. I personally think nighttime hurricanes are the worst because you can’t see flying debris. Ivan also caused extreme storm surge along the beaches that wiped out a lot of homes and businesses.

What does it take to reach the point where you decide to take cover during a shot in extreme weather like that?

If the winds got so intense that I couldn’t stand anymore or if there was a lot of flying debris nearby, I would absolutely duck for cover.

What would you say to the people who were worried about your safety during your report?

I sincerely appreciate everyone’s concern for my safety during Hurricane Irma. Our crew was very strategic about our location and how we were going to protect ourselves and our equipment. Our goal was to broadcast during the height of the hurricane, and careful planning allowed us to do that, with no issues at all. The entire crew was unharmed. Maybe a little sore after battling the winds, but otherwise unscathed.

See Bettes’ coverage from inside the eyewall below.

If you’d like to help support the victims of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, consider bidding on Mike Bettes’ hurricane-worn boots in his eBay auction. All proceeds will go towards disaster relief.


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19 Comments


  1. One of my most known meteorologists, Also a great host (love weather underground). Though , Jim Cantore has still been in stronger winds. I remember when he had hair 😂.

  2. Was that a small tornado that about knocked you down right when the eye got to you. There was a rotating votex behind you that sucked you backwards. Did anyone else see that

  3. I experienced a gust of 88 mph in Gloria. The peak gusts shown here are similar.  A vicarious thrill no doubt

  4. Great coverage of Irma, Mike and team, but as exciting as it was to watch, you did scare the heck out of me! Mike, please let 142 mph be your top wind gust permanently and don’t go trying to top it! I personally can’t handle watching you get battered any more than that! Thanks! 💦⛈💦

  5. I know these guys are professionals I was not concerned with their safety I knew they had it covered and I  appreciated  every minute of the coverage

  6. The Weather Channel continues to be the most awesome weather network out there with up-front and personal reports when we need it, and in positions or locations where most would actually run away from! Like Stephanie Abrahams says, “This is reality t.v at its best!”

  7. They know what they are doing. The point is to keep regular people away/inside a safe place. Obviously both broadcasts were watched but many people who had left the area and wanted desperately to know what was going on in there home town. I wish people would think before they type, most wouldnt dare say 90% of what they can anonymously type.

  8. what was the point of this. Was it to show how macho it was. I do not see that anything is gained by doing stunts like this. That includes Mike Seidel doing the same thing.

  9. El Reno and now Irma….what next? Definitely captivated by Bettes, Cantore, Abrams, but Al Roker and Lester Holt standing on a dark street in Tampa broadcasting in the rain and wind…that was dumb.

    Thanks to the WX Channel for intelligent coverage.