WARREN COUNTY, Mo. – People around the St. Louis area are on high alert for extreme weather following recent severe storms that featured large hail, heavy rain and even a tornado.

The National Weather Service St. Louis held a Severe Storm Spotter training course in Warren County Tuesday.

Dozens of people packed into the Warren County Administrative Building to become certified NWS storm spotters. The session highlighted the best ways to safely and quickly spot and report severe weather.

Speakers talked about the importance of storm spotters to their entire operation and how such reports allow them to quickly communicate life-saving information.

Warren County Emergency Management Director Jim Sharp hosted the event. Sharp said people in the area have a particular interest in storm spotting.

“We have a lot of folks interested in weather. Part of that is probably because we’ve had severe weather recently,” Sharp said. “It affects everybody. I mean, think of any activity day-to-day that isn’t impacted by weather.”

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The two-hour session covered a wide variety of severe weather topics.

“If you want to know how severe weather develops, the science behind it, you’re going to learn that. If you want to learn how to stay safe, you’re going to learn that,” Sharp explained.

Molly Gerhardt with the NWS said the session also gives them the opportunity to break down critical components of storm spotting that the average person might not know about.

“(Attendees learn) what a funnel cloud is, what a tornado is, (and) estimating wind speeds, because that is very important,” Gerhardt said.

Spotting storms is something certain people are drawn to. Daniel Woodchurch and Mikenna Davis made the drive from Winfield for Tuesday’s session. They said they’re ready to step up the next time severe weather hits.

“I want to actually see what’s going on, what the storm’s doing, and see if there’s actually chances of a tornado,” Woodfield said.

Sharp said that regardless of training, everyone should have multiple ways to receive a severe weather warning and always be ready to act.

“Severe weather is a fact of life here. It just is. There’s no escaping it,” Sharp said.

The NWS is offering a virtual training course on April 11 from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. To register for the event, click here.