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Storm chasers gear up for severe weather

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LAWTON, Okla._This week is our first real threat of severe weather in Texoma and that means many storm chasers in the area are gearing up.

Spencer Terry is among those who have already mapped out where he will be for the next three days during the storms.

Many believe that to be a storm chaser all you need is a vehicle and a camera phone, but unless you have the right equipment and the knowledge you are putting yourself and the professionals at risk.

"Well, for example the El Reno tornado last year, there was an incident where an amateur, he was following one of the news vans and he drove right into the tornado.  You can be killed or seriously injured, or you can get in the way.  If you get hurt you're another issue for a first responder," said Storm Chaser, Spencer Terry.

Terry is a police dispatcher by night, but his real love is chasing storms. He started in 2010 and says he has put enough money into it where he could have bought 3 cars, but instead he budgets his paycheck year round just for the spring season. His first tornado chased was May 24, 2011 in Chickasha.

"It was just crazy it was awesome," recalled Terry.

To prepare for these chases, Terry says he looks at several weather prediction models for hours.

"Figure out where the best ingredients are, the best wind and shear, stuff like that is and you go from there."

It's the experience that he has that worries him when those who don't come out and try to chase.

"I would suggest getting trained first and then leaving it up to the people who know what they are doing, and if they are really really adamant about it, try to find a local storm chaser to ride along with or a storm chase tour group," said Terry.

He says there is not much money in chasing especially with more people using their cell phones to capture video of tornadoes, but for him it doesn't matter. For him, being able to report these threats to the National Weather Service to give everyone else a warning is all worth it.

"Without us you lose a lot of lead time, you go from maybe 30 minutes or 15 minutes to maybe 5 minutes, and that is a lot of time that people could be getting to shelter," explained Terry.

He says it is not just the tornadoes that he chases, getting out there and following the hail and lightning helps to keep others safe as well.

Terry say she has traveled as far east as Georgia, as far north as Missouri and as far south as Houston to chase storms.

For those who are serious about becoming a storm chaser there are many training opportunities in Norman.

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