MARSHFIELD, Mo. - In the Ozarks, like much of the mid-west, the chance of severe weather is year round.
That's why every year, the National Weather Service offers a free class to those who want to help keep their eyes to the sky and try to warn their communities in the event of a pending disaster.
Recently, tornadoes like Joplin, Fort Leonard Wood, Rolla and so many others keep people wanting to stay informed about storms.
"Want to know a little bit more about them and also be a little bit more prepared since we live in the Ozarks," said first time trainee, Paul McMillan.
McMillan is attending his first ever storm spotter training with the National Weather Service.
"I've always loved storms, always been fascinated by them...the shear power and grace of them," said McMillan.
After the devastating EF-5 tornado in Joplin, McMillan went to help with clean up and came back with a new found desire.
"Just seeing the devastation down there, that was really the main deciding factor that made me want to come here to just be more prepared and learn more about them," McMillan said.
That's the kind of trend Meteorologists at the National Weather Service has seen since the devastating year of 2011.
"I think it's grabbed a lot of people's attention that hey, we need to be more weather ready across the nation, especially here in the Ozarks," Meteorologist Mike Griffin, with the National Weather Service, said.
So far this year, the Weather Service has seen an increase in attendance, from the young to the old, from the already trained spotter to the first timer.
For the the agency, the more trained eyes on the sky, the better.
"With all the technology that we have as meteorlogists, we still need that ground truth," said Griffin. "It doesn't matter what we see on radar if we don't know what''s really going on underneath the cloud or underneath the storm."
And for spotters like McMillan...
"The earlier the warning, the earlier the detection, the better for everybody else."