SURVIVE THE STORM: HAM radio operators first in line to keep us safe

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- The National Weather Service has valuable partners in place to keep all of us safe. SkyWarn is a volunteer program with as many as 400,000 trained severe weather spotters across the country.

Jim Miller is a ham radio operator and a member of southwest Missouri Regional SkyWarn, a team of volunteer weather spotters.

"We take what we do seriously," said Miller. "We try to save lives with our actions and do what we can for the community."

Patti Flowers talks to spotters in 37 counties.

"We provide ground truth to the weather service in severe weather," said Flowers.

Years ago the huge and deadly Andover, Kan. EF5 tornado scared Flowers. Instead of getting trapped in nightmares, she faced severe weather head-on.

"What can i do to be safe...? The more I experienced, the more I prepared, I just wasn't scared anymore," said Flowers. "And, I want to share that with others that's my hope."

Now, she shares information, serves others and preaches safety to spotters. And each time a storm approaches they're out there watching and hitting the airwaves with what they see.

"I think spotters are kind of the unsung heroes," said Miller.

SkyWarn volunteers include police and fire personnel, dispatchers, EMS workers, public utility workers and private citizens. The training is free and usually goes about 2 hours.

Click HERE for classes.