Thunderstorms. Flash floods. Tornadoes. Texoma residents gathered Thursday night at Grayson College to learn about these topics and more at the National Weather Service’s Storm Spotter Training.

Thunderstorms. Flash floods. Tornadoes. Texoma residents gathered Thursday night at Grayson College to learn about these topics and more at the National Weather Service’s Storm Spotter Training.


People from all walks of life could be found in the crowd that packed the auditorium nearly full, including amateur ham radio operators, married couples, a couple of Boy Scout troops and several members of the Gunter Fire Department.


Mark Fox, warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s Fort Worth office, taught the class. The objective of the class, Fox said, is to educate residents about how to spot severe weather so it can be reported to the NWS office. The NWS hopes that lives can be saved through the information gathered by storm spotters.


"We can only tell part of the storm through the office," Fox said, "Here in Sherman, in Denison, the radar beam is 7,000 feet off the ground. A lot happens in that lower 7,000 feet, which means we’re never going to see it back at the office. So we’ve got to have spotters telling us exactly what’s going on."


Attendees learned characteristics of thunderstorms as well as the classification of thunderstorms.


The two-hour presentation was peppered with humor when appropriate, but still communicated the grave importance of safety in severe weather situations.


Fox discussed the three "outlook risk levels" of thunderstorms: slight, moderate and high.


"Which is the most dangerous risk level?" Fox asked. The answer: all of them.


"How many times do you pay attention to a ‘slight risk’ of storms? Human nature is, we don’t pay attention at all," Fox said, "Really what that means is that you have a slight chance of dying because of the weather that day."


Sherman resident Mark Pilkilton was one of the many amateur ham radio operators who came out to the training. He said he trains to be a storm spotter in order to understand weather forecasts better and to help his family be prepared in case of inclement weather.


"The class was very informative. I always wish more people would come out and take it … It greatly benefits people," Pilkilton said.


Fox teaches several Storm Spotter Training classes from January to April each year in many Dallas-Fort Worth area counties. A schedule of the classes can be found at the National Weather Service Fort Worth’s website, www.srh.noaa.gov/fwd.