The forecast for this week is cold. Followed by colder. But eventually spring will arrive and we'll have severe weather watches, tornado watches, and warnings for all sorts of significant weather events.

Each spring the National Weather Service in Norman, Oklahoma, hosts training sessions for the guys and gals who go out and actually put eyes on the storm systems that the folks in Norman are following on radar.

The next Skywarn Storm Spotter Training session for our area is this Saturday morning and no matter how cold it is outside, you can attend from the comfort of your own home because the COVID-19 pandemic has made the session a virtual presentation.

While these online presentations are primarily geared toward the spotters who get out in the field during severe weather outbreaks, they're also great sources of information for anyone with a deep interest in severe weather. If you want to know how thunderstorms form, what makes one storm tornadic and another not, what to watch out for and what to do when things start to go sideways - sometimes literally - this may be something you'll really like.

While storm chasers frequently operate independently and try to position themselves for the best photo ops, storm spotters fulfill a much needed role for the National Weather Service. Each spotter's location is monitored by a network control operator who communicates with them via amateur radio transceivers and positions them so that they can not only see what the storm is doing, but also stay a safe distance from its destructive force at the same time. While in the field these spotters report back to the National Weather Service with real-time information to confirm or disprove what they're seeing on their radar. Many times what the spotters are seeing on the ground can make a huge impact on whether or not the National Weather Service issues a warning for any particular area.

The Spotter Training session is free, but you do need to preregister online. There are multiple sessions scheduled with each covering a specific region, the session for Wichita, Archer, Baylor, and Clay counties will be this Saturday, February 13th, at 9:00 a.m.

Of course if you'd like to become a spotter and go out to help keep an eye on things the National Weather Service has information on that too. The local HAM radio operators will be happy to help you become a licensed amateur radio operator and pair you with a training partner before they send you out into the storm.

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