Storm Spotter Training Refocuses on Safety After Deadly Season


Weather experts are pushing a renewed emphasis on safety after a deadly season for storm chasers.

Four trained chasers died in Oklahoma last May.

"These were people who had been chasing for 20 to 30 years and I knew them personally. They were good, smart people," said Steve Eddy, meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service in Hastings. "What scares us is the people that haven't been to training, don't understand what they're looking at and they're out there for the rush and the thrill."

That's why the National Weather Service holds training for spotters.

"We'll train them where to be looking, where is that most likely to occur, how to be safe," said Eddy.

It's why photographer Cheryl Sims attended Grand Island's session.

"We want to try to get some really nice photographs of storm clouds, some of the storms and hopefully translate some of that into art; so my husband suggested this would be a really good idea to be safe when we're out shooting photography," she said.

National Weather Service staff hope others in the crowd were there to spot storms for them.

"They're our eyes to the storms. We see things on radar, but you really need someone to see that and tell you what's going on so we know it's really happening," said Eddy.

Eddy said safe spotters could make a difference in the warning you get.

"It might help us to pull that trigger to issue that tornado warning or whatever and save some lives," he said.

National Weather Service officials said they always need more spotters, especially in the rural counties in their area.

For a list of upcoming training sessions, click here.