Drove back from Vegas this morning. Rushed to work. Walked into a newsroom that was buzzing with urgency of covering tornadoes. I've been gone for a week. Almost every day that I was gone there was severe weather coverage. (Many have joked tornado alley moved, but actually I believe this is more traditional to Colorado weather patterns and what's been out of the ordinary is the lack of such weather.)

It was obvious this dance had been done quite recently and people were in auto-mode; which does not mean less effort. If anything, it's more effort. Interns sat answering phones and taking the calls they could to let the desk and producers do their jobs. Anchors were making cold calls to businesses and homes in the tornado area to see if they could find witnesses who would do phone interviews. The reporters and photographers were already on the road. Producers were writing and ordering graphics to be made of the pictures emailed or shared via Twitter by witnesses. Managers were working with the program department to clear time for live cut-ins for live updates. Finally, the desk, my home, was moving news crews to reported areas of damage, calling officials for information that could be aired, calling potential eye witnesses for interviews.

My two desk coworkers each took turns rapidly filling me in on what was happening and what crews were where in what live trucks. I replaced one coworker by taking over the hot seat. There's no better way to get caught up then to jump on in! But it had been a week since I'd been in this seat. The breaking news dance was going on around me with everyone already in practiced steps. There wasn't much I could do but try to keep up with emails and help with the phone calls. There were only a few minutes left of the live cut-in so I wasn't even needed to arrange phone interviews. I even tried to jump on Twitter and Facebook to at least help in those tools that are sometimes overlooked. Today they weren't overlooked. I didn't make one entry on either station account until after the breaking news coverage was over. I did what I could on my Twitter account, but I was late in the game and sometimes it's best not to play catch up in social media platforms that are so instant that breaking news can quickly become old news. So I said hello and thanks to those on Twitter who welcomed me back. I tried to explain what are crews were doing and answered a few questions.

The fast-paced dance I'd walked in on had slowed down to a waltz. The danger of the severe storm was over. There was little more I could do here but help our crews with directions. Frankly though the crews were the ones in the field and had to find sporadic tornado damage in a large rural area on their own. There wasn't much I could do to help them.

As things slowed the new cut-in times were given to the producers and they decided what elements were to be used in each cut-in. I alerted the crews to the plans and shouted in the newsroom what each crew had or had not found that could be broadcast. Everyone was well settled into his or her individual tasks. For me that was monitoring the desk and assisting others when needed. My third desk mate signed off for the day leaving me alone on the desk with a calm newsroom, and even relatively quiet scanners.

I'm left waiting for the next dance.