Weather service educating public

? Tornado season brazenly announced its early arrival last week, walloping eastern Kansas, Missouri and several other states with a series of deadly twisters.

The destruction underscored the need for storm spotters who can discern an intimidating cloud from a storm system capable of dropping a devastating tornado.

Brad Ketcham, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wichita, said storm spotters are critical for calling in tornadoes and alerting authorities to the danger of severe weather. To do that, they must learn the various kinds of cloud formations and be able to spot trouble even in the darkness of night.

That’s one of the reasons Reno County Emergency Management and the National Weather Service are holding a series of presentations in central Kansas, designed to educate the public on what a severe storm looks like.

Ketcham said storm spotters should not be confused with storm chasers.

While some storm chasers serve a scientific purpose, conducting real-time research in the field, many are in it for the thrill and the glory, creating a hazard on the road, he said.

Reno County resident Lena Cape said a recent course helped her to better protect herself against a tornado. She lives in an area where she can’t hear tornado sirens.

“If anything happens, it’s up to me,” she said.