BYRON, Ill. (WTVO) — Even though the Rockford area is expecting snow later this week, severe weather season is about to start, meaning residents should be ready if they want to keep their family safe.

The Byron Public Library hosted an event where teens and adults could learn more about severe weather and storm chasing.

Illinois Storm Chasers presenter Nick Bartholomew used his firsthand experiences to explain the importance of being prepared for severe weather during all times of the year.

“It’s that mindset of ‘oh, I’m under a tornado warning, I get put under several of these a year, nothing is going to happen,'” Bartholomew said.

Bartholomew explained the processes behind severe weather and the impact it can have. His most recent presentation at Byron Public Library focused on how important it is to be ready for severe weather year round.

“That way, when severe weather does strike, we have that plan, because so many times I find that people wait until that event hits, and then thereafter getting prepared for it,” Bartholomew said.

The event took place right in the middle of “Severe Weather Preparedness Week” in Illinois. Bartholomew covered a wide range of topics, including taking shelter when severe weather warnings are issued.

“But, the purpose of these warnings and the reason why people, I feel, do not take them as seriously as they potentially should, is because they have never been hit before,” he said.

Local events inspired Bartholomew’s fascination with severe weather. The Plainfield, Illinois, tornado in 1991 is one of them, the only F5 to ever hit the Chicago area.

“I heard those stories growing up, so I had an immense fear of it, and it wasn’t until I really learned more about weather that the fear turned into this desire to see severe weather and get as close as humanly possible to these tornadoes,” Bartholomew said.

He said that even with the destruction severe storms can cause, there is also a level of awe to live through something like that.

“Weather gives off the most incredible sights on our planet, and to be able to see that up close and having everyone see that experience and see how cool Mother Nature truly can be and that’s not all scary, that’s not all doom and gloom, that there is beauty behind it,” Bartholomew said.

The National Weather Service is hosting storm spotter trainings in person and virtually in the next few weeks for residents who are interested. One will be held in Dixon.

More information can be found on the National Weather Service’s website.