Local radio operators keep their eyes on the sky

Local News

The National Weather Service offers Skywarn training for anyone who is interested. In fact, the last class locally this season is on Tuesday. But there is one group in the Valley that’s been alerting people to storms that predate the Skywarn program.

Andy Brincko has been a HAM radio operator for 51 years. He and other operators were the original Skywarn storm spotters in the Mahoning Valley.

“After seeing the damage at Xenia and so forth, we came back home we started doing this. It was probably five or six years before we realized that this was a NOAA program,” Brincko said.

It was only years later that Skywarn radio operators were put through their toughest test – the tornado of 1985.

That day, Brincko was positioned on a hill overlooking Niles. It was then the first report of a tornado came over the air.

“It didn’t take long after that first report came through that we knew something big was going on,” Brincko said.

Even though spotters were sending in reports, their jobs were far from over. Storm warnings soon turned to disaster relief efforts.

“Everybody just changed hats, and we went from storm warning to let’s help these people who need to recover,” Brincko said.

The National Weather Service says spotters are still as vital today as they were back then. They are the eyes on the ground. Reports from Skywarn spotters can even help trigger tornado warnings.

“We will say in there the radar has indicated a tornado. If we receive a call from a spotter saying a tornado is on the ground, we will put out another tornado warning saying a spotter has confirmed a tornado on the ground,” said Christine Riley, NWS Cleveland Warning Coordination Meteorologist.

That information can be critical for those seeking shelter.

A Skywarn training class is being held at 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 25 at Austintown Fitch High School.

Copyright 2022 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Mel Robbins Main Area Middle

Trending on WYTV.com