Harry Volkman dies

HarryLongtime Chicago meteorologist set the standard for weather reporting

Chicago television fans are mourning the loss of one of local TV’s first known weatherman – Harry Volkman, who passed away at his home Thursday at the age of 89.

In an era before Doppler Radars and computer technology, Volkman was known for his active visual descriptions of the weather.

Volkman was noted for issuing the first-ever “tornado alert” back in 1952 while working for an Oklahoma City television station, WKY-TV (now KFOR-TV). The alert was credited for saving lives and is used today as a valuable resource for over-the-air broadcasters.

Volkman arrived in Chicago in 1959, being employed twice at WNBQ/WMAQ-TV and WGN-TV, and later at WBBM-TV and at WFLD, where he was until 2004 when they dropped him as weekend meteorologist. Volkman used strong wording¬†to describe weather activity, such as “whoosh”. Volkman was also known for visiting area-elementary schools in the Chicago area.

In the last few years, Volkman had been more or less retired from the business. A few weeks ago, Volkman was hospitalized with a respiratory ailment.

Volkman is survived by his son Eddie, best known for being paired up with JoBo for morning drive at WBBM-FM. He is also survived by three other children, ten grandchildren, three great-grandchildren, and his wife Anita.

This story was first reported by Robert Feder Thursday evening.