Don't be surprised today when you hear tornado warning sirens go off around Minnesota. The statewide tornado drill is part of Severe Weather Awareness Week, which is designed to get Minnesotans thinking about preparing for bad weather, including tornadoes.
There are some people who don't wait for the sirens to sound as they track potentially dangerous storms. They are specially trained volunteers with a storm spotting group called Metro Skywarn.
At the first hint of bad weather, they fan out and watch the skies around the metro area, sending back reports to the National Weather Service via a ham radio network.
Nick Elms is the director of the West Metro Skywarn. In the early 1980s, a tornado came through near his home in St. Anthony Village. Elms turned a fear of bad weather into a passion to understand it, and today he dedicates hours of his life to storm spotting.
Elms says his main goal is to protect the lives and property of the people in Minnesota in times of severe weather. He spoke with MPR's Cathy Wurzer.