Severe Weather Threat Levels Explained

Published: Dec. 31, 2021 at 12:29 PM CST
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When there’s a risk for severe storms, you’ll hear our Storm Team 11 meteorologists say we have, for example, “a level-one low risk”...or “a level-3 enhanced risk” for severe weather. The Storm Prediction Center evaluates the severe potential for an area each day, and they will place an area under a risk level from 1-5 if there’s a threat. However, what do the levels (or categories) mean exactly? Let’s go from lowest to highest risk:

Marginal (Level 1)

This is the lowest tier within the severe categories. It means there’s a chance for isolated severe storms with a very limited coverage.

Slight Risk (Level 2)

It means the severe weather coverage is expected to be a little bit more widespread that the Marginal risk, but still limited. So, expect scattered severe storms with various levels of intensity, and isolated tornadoes are possible.

Enhanced Risk (Level 3)

Numerous severe storms are expected with a few intense storms…including some tornadoes that could be on the strong (meaning, an EF2 or higher).

Moderate Risk (Level 4)

Severe storms are likely. The coverage is widespread, and any tornadoes could be long-lived. Large hail and damaging winds are a big threat.

High Risk (Level 5)

We never want to see this. This is the highest risk issued by the storm prediction center, and it’s rare to see this risk level. However, when you do… expect a severe weather outbreak the area. Numerous and long track tornadoes are expected, and there could be severe storms with winds gusting over 70-mph…possibly over hurricane force…and widespread damage is feared.

Unfortunately, our area has a risk for severe storms on Saturday. So, be weather aware through the afternoon & evening…and have multiple ways of getting severe weather alerts.

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