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Estherville’s weatherman retires after 30 years

By Staff | Jun 24, 2008

For 30 years now, neither rain nor sleet nor dark of night have kept Loren Burkart from his appointed rounds as Estherville’s weatherman. From Estherville to Blue Earth to Fairmont to Spencer to Sioux City, Burkart’s familiar voice has helped keep the media abreast of the fickle changes of Mother Nature. Whoever says there’s nothing happening in Estherville weather-wise is ill informed.

After all, the word blizzard was first used in print here.

Burkart is hanging up his barometer, though. He is retiring June 27.

It was Steve Pritts, former manager of the Estherville airport, who talked Burkart into reporting the weather for area media. Apparently Pritts heard there were television and radio stations that needed something to report. Pritts saw to it that Burkart was set up with the weather station in his yard. And so, on June 21, 1978, Burkart did his first broadcast for KTIV TV in Sioux City. It caught on, and he started reporting the weather for KCAU TV the same week. Then came The Refuge Christian radio station in Blue Earth, KTIN Radio in Worthington, and KILR Radio in Estherville. He also did precipitation reports for KICD Radio in Spencer.

Burkart generally has reported highs, lows, and precipitation. If necessary, he can tell the direction with his anemometer. He knows that when the cups start to blur that it’s about 30 miles an hour.

Burkart’s love of the weather goes all the way back to his childhood.

“I’ve always been interested ever since I was a kid,” Burkart said. “My mother always told me I could recognize what kind of cloud it is and that. I always liked to lie on the grass and look at the clouds during the day.”

If the clouds looked like sheep, that meant the weather was going to stay nice. That wasn’t the case for a tornado, of course.

“It’s sort of like a roaring lion that looks like it’s going to devour somebody. And sometimes it does,” Burkart said.

Dark wall clouds mean hail and wind. Burkart said he’s heard of hail as large as basketballs.

The worst weather he remembers is the flood of 1993. Another bad one was the blizzard of 1966 when the following spring water ran across Highway 4.

Due to health, though, Burkart is hanging it up. He says sometimes when he’s giving a report he starts coughing and he doesn’t want that to interfere with his report.

Working for 30 years for no pay certainly shows dedication, and he’ll miss it.

“I’ll miss the calling and getting up at 4 a.m.,” Burkart said. “One thing I won’t miss is coming out in the wintertime to get snow amounts.”