TODAY meteorologist Al Roker has been reporting from New Orleans as Hurricane Ida, a Category 4 storm, made landfall in southeast Louisiana on Sunday.
The veteran weatherman became a trending topic on Twitter when viewers took to social media to express their concern for Roker, 67, covering the storm at his age.
"Get 67-year-old Al Roker out of this hurricane," wrote one user.
"Al Roker getting too old being out in the storm NBC! He's 67 years old! I'm sure Rocker feels like 40 and loves it tho!" commented another.
Roker addressed the comments with a post on Instagram, letting viewers know he and his crew are safe.
"For all those who were worried about me out on #lakepontchartrain covering #Ida a) I volunteered to do this. Part of the job. b) My crew and I were safe and we are back at our hotel and c) for those who think I’m too old to be doing this, try and keep up," he wrote.
In a follow-up appearance on MSNBC's "The Sunday Show with Jonathan Capehart" from New Orleans, Roker updated viewers again on his safety, saying he and his crew vacated Lake Pontchartrain because "the water was coming up so fast, we were going to be trapped there."
Roker also used his appearance as an opportunity to address the critics who said he is too old to be reporting in the middle of the dangerous weather.
"I volunteered to come out here. I've done it for 40 years," he said. "Our crews, we all make sure we are safe, and we're not going to do something to put ourselves in harm's way. As much as I love the weather and love NBC, I'm not going to risk my life for it."
"Secondly, 'Well, he's too old to be doing this'? Well, hey, screw you. OK? And try to keep up. Keep up, OK?" he joked. "These young punks. I'll come after them. I will drop them like a bag of dirt."
Hurricane Ida made landfall along the Gulf Coast near Port Fourchon, Louisiana's southernmost port, on Sunday, the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina hitting New Orleans.
Ida is a powerful Category 4 with top sustained winds of 150 mph. President Joe Biden deployed emergency response resources from FEMA to the area, as the National Hurricane Center warned of "catastrophic wind damage" and "extremely life-threatening" storm surges.
Currently some 212,000 people are without power in New Orleans. The storm is expected to rapidly weaken once it hits land and to move inland to portions of Louisiana and Mississippi on Monday. Its current path shows the storm moving northeast toward the middle of the week.