CHICAGO (CBS) — When severe weather hit north-central Illinois last week, there was an army of volunteers out gathering information, and funneling it to the National Weather Service to provide a more accurate picture of what was going on.
Among those volunteers were amateur radio operators.READ MORE: SWAT Team On Scene On Division Street On Near North Side
Tom Ciciora has been involved in amateur radio, or ham radio, for more than 40 years. He said, when thunderstorm or tornado warnings are issued by the National Weather Service, amateur radio enthusiasts will head toward areas where it might be worst, using smartphone app radar as a guide.
“When this thing initiated, there were folks in the correct place, making reports back to the weather service, and all along its path,” he said.
He called what happened Thursday evening, when a deadly tornado hit near Rockford, “quite a group effort.”
Ciciora said enough warning went out as a result, that – even though two people were killed – most people were able to get to someplace safe, and minimize any injuries.READ MORE: Northwestern University Receives Gift Of $480 Million, Largest In University History, From Patrick And Shirley Ryan
Two women were killed and 20 people were injured, after an EF4 tornado hit the towns of Fairdale and Rochelle, just south of Rockford.
Bill Nelson, Observation Program Leader for the National Weather Service office in Romeoville, said, when severe weather hits, ham operators are “our eyes on the ground, as they can reach out to other ham members, and tell us what’s actually going on out in the real world.”