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Meteorologists help train area storm spotters

Weather sessions are focused on helping local officials and other volunteer storm spotters provide accurate severe weather information and remain safe
by Bryan Painter Published: February 9, 2013

“A lot of my folks that attended have done this many times, it's just a matter of re-emphasizing everything and it helps keep the public safe,” said Ball, who gets assistance from 11 spotters, law enforcement and fire departments throughout the county. “The spotters' safety is also very important. With my guys, we may talk on the radio about going somewhere, but I tell them every time ‘If you don't feel comfortable somewhere, then leave and just tell me where you're going.' I'm not out there, I'm here in the office watching it and I can give them information from the computer from looking at radar, but it's still not the same as what they are experiencing being there.”

The meteorologists recommend that spotters complete the online training materials before attending a webinar or a live class.

Most sessions are open to anyone, although individuals should contact their emergency management director before attending, especially if interested in becoming a member of a local storm spotter network.

During severe weather, storm spotters report to emergency managers.

“I want to know from the spotter, ‘What exactly are you seeing?'” Ball said. “For example, we might ask, ‘Is it raining, is it hailing?' The spotters are our eyes and our ears out there.”

The emergency managers relay their severe weather information to the National Weather Service.

Smith said his office also has an official National Weather Service YouTube channel. They are planning to post material there, also.

“The goal of all this is to make it easier for people to take the training on their own schedule,” Smith said. “We want to place it out there in as many different ways as we can and let people use what is best for them.”

by Bryan Painter
Assistant Local Editor
Bryan Painter, assistant local editor, has 31 years’ experience in journalism, including 22 years with the state's largest newspaper, The Oklahoman. In that time he has covered such events as the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah...
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Spotter training

Forecasters from the National Weather Service in Norman conduct storm spotter training sessions each year to help prepare spotters for the upcoming severe weather season.

Most of the training in 2013 will be completed through online modules and live webinars, with live training classes conducted on a regional basis. For information about the 2013 training schedule, go to


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