We are now(again) trained weather spotters.
On April 9th Caitlyn and I(Mike). Attended a weather spotting class at Northwest Iowa Community College in Sheldon, Iowa. This class is something that I had attended almost a decade ago when I first started chasing storms for photos.
The purpose of the class is to train people in how to safely report important weather phenomenon with what is called "ground truth" accuracy. Ground truth is the idea that since the National Weather Service can't have secret agents all over where severe weather is happening, the public should be trained to assist them by reporting local conditions. The NWS can see what is happening in the clouds thanks to radar, but they can't tell what the conditions are like without trained weather spotters like us.
I'd consider this class a vital part of training in anticipation of photographing thunderstorms over the Midwest. When you photograph storms you are putting yourself at a higher than average risk of being exposed to the dangers these sometimes powerful storms can bring. So learning how to predict the weather based on observations as well as apps, it's more than just a qualification, it's potentially lifesaving.
Turnout was impressive, I'd estimate that about 75 people came to this class. I'd also recommend that anyone who wants to learn how to identify the phenomenon associated with tornadoes and severe thunderstorms attend a class like this. It really can help the community when people are informed about the weather and how to report severe weather. A person like me can make a difference, and we can help create a tornado or thunderstorm warning if there is a severe storm. We can potentially save lives, and we might just save our own by being informed.