It's always a sad day for the news cycle when a staple of television passes away, but unfortunately that has been the reality for WGN Weekend Morning news Chicago. Beloved meteorologist Mike Hamernik died on Mar. 10, 2021, at age 60. Viewers have since wondered: What happened to Mike?
What happened to Mike Hamernik?
An announcement by Mike's sister Kathleen was posted to his Twitter account to let viewers know he had died.
The tweet also said that he had been struggling with lung cancer, and read, "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 will be severely missed by the WGN Weekend morning team. He was a meteorologist in the Chicago area since 2002, and got his start on CLTV. Mike's passion for meteorology started at the tender age of 6, when WGN reported a microburst felled a large elm tree on his family's block. By age 8, he was collecting weather maps given to him by Chicago meteorologist Harry Volkman.
It turns out that working for WGTV ran in the family. Harry was able to give Mike the weather maps through Mike's father, Donald, who worked at WGTV as a staff musician for Bozo’s Circus and Artists’ Showcase. This lifelong fondness and interest in the weather generated many fans of Mike's work, only adding to the great loss WGTV staff felt as they remembered their friend and co-worker on Mar. 13, 2021.
During several tributes to Mike featured on WGN, Chief Meteorologist Tom Skilling was quoted as telling the fellow meteorologist, "When I want to watch a weather show, it’s your show I watch." Morning Team member Tonya Francisco also commended her former teammate, saying he was an excellent forecaster and "If Mike said [weather] was going to happen, it was going to happen."
Tom Skilling also posted a separate Facebook tribute, which shed light on how much Mike had been struggling during his final weeks. Tom writes, "He had been coughing so violently in recent months, I had feared something was very wrong. Yet Mike was very private. He never let on how serious the situation with his health had become."
Tom concluded with a simple statement that described how all viewers must feel about Mike's passing. "We're going to miss our dear friend and colleague, Mike Hamernik at WGN. I've seen few in my years in this business who possessed Mike's work ethic. He was a hard worker and worked every shift in the book, whether morning, evening or late night."
To Kathleen, Mike's sister, and to all the loved ones he left behind, he will be sorely missed. Viewers at home, whether long-term or new, wish his family all the best.
WGN Weekend Morning News airs Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. CST & Sundays from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. CST.