As I mentioned in a previous blog post, we are going to try to become more intentional on making forecasts that make sense to the viewers. I want maps that my kids can understand. If my kids can understand them, then most of our viewers will be able to understand them.
I say all of this to address the thunderstorm outlook for today. The Storm Prediction Center, a branch of the National Weather Service, issues thunderstorm outlooks. They issue 1, 2, 3, and 4-7 day outlooks. They use the terminology "see text", "slight", "moderate", and "high" to communicate the threats. The probabilities of severe weather dictate whether it is a slight, moderate, or high risk. The confusing part to the viewer is that these corresponding probablities differ from Day 1, 2, and 3. To add to the confusion, they are soon breaking the terms into more categories including marginal, slight, enhanced, moderate, and high. Here are some charts explaining the changes. Click to enlarge:
This is nothing new. Television stations in Oklahoma City are also trying to make a thunderstorm risk map easier for the public. Thanks to Jason Prentice and Nate Johnson for this pic:
I say all of this to tell you that OUR forecast has a high risk of severe weather today, even though the terminology from the SPC is a "moderate" risk. Here's our latest severe weather threat map for today:
This SPC map looks like this:
But, if you break down the probabilities of the SPC, they also feel the threat is significant. I feel that a 15% chance of a tornado, with a 10% chance of EF2-EF5 damage within a 25 mile radius is a "high" risk, even though it does not meet their threshold to use that terminology:
When you look at their probabilities of hail and wind, the threat is also quite high:
So, our forecasts are not that different, we are just trying to communicate the threats better.
Lastly, ALL watches and warnings come from the National Weather Service. Warnings come from the local offices in Memphis, Little Rock, Paducah, and Springfield. All watches come from the SPC. That will not change.
I hope this helps! Be safe today.