You’ll often see meteorologists on tv show a ‘severe weather outlook’ displaying areas of the country that are at risk of dangerous weather. It’s important to know exactly what these outlooks are showing, so you can understand the risks and protect yourself and your property.
Severe weather outlooks are crafted by the Storm Prediction Center on a daily basis. Based on the probability of severe thunderstorms over a geographical area, regions of the US are highlighted and ranked on a 6 part scale to show areas at risk of severe weather for any given day. The scale is ranked as follows:
We can describe weather as “extreme”, “dangerous”, or even “scary”, but when meteorologists on television and at the National Weather Service talk about weather being “severe”, there are specific criteria that must be met.
A “severe” thunderstorm is specifically defined by the National Weather Service as a thunderstorm that is capable of producing wind gusts of 58 mph or greater, and/or hail 1″ in diameter or larger. This is determined either by radar information, or by a spotter report. The National Weather Service will issue a severe thunderstorm warning for a geographical area near and ahead of a thunderstorm capable of either criteria.
Severe thunderstorms can sometimes spawn tornadoes. If a tornado is suspected with a particular thunderstorm, a tornado warning will often be issued for the area near and ahead of the storm.
Here is the outlook for Sunday, March 26, 2017 as shown on WeatherNation:
Understanding these definitions and scales can help you stay ahead of the weather, and understand how to be better prepared. You should consider your own personal home, property, and lifestyle when planning ahead for severe weather. What actions should you take to protect yourself and your property?
Read more about how to protect your home and property by visiting Ready.gov/severe-weather
Finally, read more on other types of severe weather definitions by visiting the National Weather Service here.