Mike Hamernik, a WGN-TV meteorologist, died of lung cancer Wednesday morning. He was 60.
His sister, Kathleen, announced Mr. Hamernik’s death and his history of lung cancer in a tweet on Mr. Hamernik’s Twitter account. His sister said he died at home “surrounded by love and at peace.”
Mr. Hamernik, a Chicago native, signed on with CLTV in 2002 after several postings around the Midwest. He joined the WGN WeatherCenter team in 2005 and served as the WGN Weekend Morning News meteorologist.
I am Mike’s sister, Kathleen; I am here with the heart-breaking news that our dear meteorologist died this morning from lung cancer. He was home, surrounded by love and at peace. Please know he cherished all of you, his Twitter followers & weather enthusiasts. ♥️⛈❄️☔️☀️— Mike Hamernik (@MikeHamernik) March 10, 2021
According to WGN, Mr. Hamernik’s passion for weather traces back to his childhood. At the age of 6, Mr. Hamernik was captivated when his neighborhood was struck by a microburst that tore down some trees on his block in the Rogers Park neighborhood.
His father, Donald Hamernik, who worked at WGN as a staff musician for Bozo’s Circus and Artists’ Showcase, connected the budding weatherman with the station’s chief meteorologist, Harry Volkman. Mr. Hamernik was 8 years old when he began collecting and studying weather maps he got from Volkman.
“Mike Hamernik was an amazing meteorologist and part of the WGN family for nearly two decades,” WGN-TV News Director Dominick Stasi said in a statement. “If you knew Mike, you knew he was one of the nicest people you’d ever meet and was extremely dedicated to his craft.”
Mr. Hamernik studied meteorology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, landing his first weather forecasting position in Madison with Weather Central Inc. He moved to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in 1992 where he worked as a meteorologist for KGAN-TV with CBS and WMT-AM/FM. He then worked from 1994 to 2001 as chief meteorologist at KTTC-TV with NBC in Rochester, Minnesota, before moving back to Chicago. Mr. Hamernik was a member of the American Meteorological Society and the National Weather Association.
Colleagues of Mr. Hamernik — both at WGN and across the meteorological community — took to Twitter to offer their condolences and share stories.
I’m heartbroken over this. Mike and I go back nearly 3 decades. We worked together at KGAN in Cedar Rapids, Iowa during the early 1990’s. He loved to share stories about running around WGN as a kid when his dad was a drummer on Bozo Circus. We will miss you.— Judy Wang (@JudyWangWGN) March 10, 2021