Crawford County Emergency Management will host a "storm spotter" training session at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 4.

Dennis Gilstrap, director of the Crawford County Department of Emergency Management, said the class will be held at the Emergency Operations Center at 1820 Chestnut St. in Van Buren.

The session will be conducted by the Tulsa National Weather Service.

Ed Calianese, warning coordination meteorologist, said the training is free and requires no preregistration.

"Throughout eastern Oklahoma and northwestern Arkansas, trained and dedicated individuals monitor the skies around their communities during severe weather events," Calianese said. "These storm spotters provide first-hand severe weather reports to their local officials and to the National Weather Service in Tulsa, which are used to make critical warning decisions."

Being a storm spotter not only means dedication but also training, Calianese said.

"Each winter and spring the Tulsa office of the National Weather Service trains members of police and fire departments, emergency management officials and amateur radio operators on spotting techniques," he said.

Typically, the training is coordinated by a local group, such as an emergency management agency, and a NWS meteorologist serves as the guest instructor.

"The goal of the training is not just to recognize tornadoes but to have some understanding of storm structure, which in turn better prepares the spotter for the extreme and unusual circumstances," Calianse said.

Other topics covered include an update on the latest NWS technology and procedures, ideas for organizing/coordinating spotter groups, and important safety considerations.

The March 4 session is open to the public.

For more information call CCDEM at (479) 471-3260.