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Amateur Radio Weather Spotters Help Track Severe Weather in North-Central Illinois


Amateur Radio weather spotters were on alert April 9 as severe weather and at least two tornadoes ripped through North-Central Illinois. At least one person died in DeKalb County, and at least seven others were injured. A tornado watch was in effect for parts of three states as severe thunderstorms move through the region ahead of an advancing cold front.

“The storms that affected North-Central Illinois yesterday were unheard of for our area,” said ARRL Illinois Section Manager Tom Ciciora, KA9QPN, noting that the stricken communities are just north of where he lives. “At this time, one person is dead, many are injured, and even more are homeless. At least one small community was completely leveled, and damage exists from Ogle County northwest into Lake County.

Ciciora said all along the way, the storm was identified and tracked by numerous Amateur Radio spotters, who relayed reports to the National Weather Service through several nets. The National Weather Service credited several reports during the period of severe weather to Amateur Radio.

“I heard much of this as it happened,” Ciciora added, “and it was one of our finest collective efforts.” He said there are no ongoing ARES communication support operations under way.

“Based on reports from trained storm spotters and chasers as well as radar and environmental evidence,” the National Weather Service said, “there were at the very least two tornadoes, but likely more across North-Central Illinois on April 9.” The NWS said another brief tornado occurred earlier north of Peoria. The region also received up to golf ball-sized hail and as much as an inch and a half of rain.

A State of Illinois Emergency Management Agency incident response team has been dispatched to the affected areas, and damage assessment is under way.





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