Tri-State meteorologist heads to Australia to help forecasters

Tri-State meteorologist heading to Australia to help wildfire forecasters

CINCINNATI (FOX19) - The Australia wildfires have burned more than 27 million acres in a matter of months. That’s a little smaller than the state of Ohio.

The Australia Bureau of Meteorology is asking our country for help as they try to combat the ever-changing weather. That’s where a local meteorologist comes in the picture.

Meteorologist John Franks has been working at the National Weather Service in Wilmington for more than 20 years. He’s been an Incident Meteorologist since 2002.

That means he gets dispatched to other areas to provide specialized forecasts for disasters like wildfires.

“Weather usually starts the fire, usually drives the fire and will be the thing that typically ends the fire,” Franks explains.

This will be Franks’ 15th dispatch with NWS but this will be the longest he’s away from his family and the farthest he’s ever gone. Franks will travel to Australia next week for as long as eight weeks.

“I’m going to be worried about what’s happening at home with my wife and kids. She’s used to me being gone for as long as I need to and this is going to be a little longer but this is not something I’m able to take lightly," Franks said.

Franks has mostly traveled out west to assist with the wildfires in our own country.

He says one of the most memorable situations he was part of was a major fire in Idaho in 2007. Franks told the all-female hotshot crew there would be a shift in the winds but they were still surprised by it.

“One girl tripped and the two girls behind fell over her,” remembers Franks, “And as the wind hit the fire and was blowing fire across the road that they were on.”

Franks says two of the firefighters ended up in the hospital.

“Ultimately when I get called out to a fire I am there to support the people that are making decisions so that their decisions keep the firefighters safe.”

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