severe storms

Today's Storm Risk is Level 4, ‘Moderate' — What Does That Mean?

Want to know what to expect during an enhanced, moderate or high risk is issued by the Storm Prediction Center, read below

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For an update on today's weather, click here. This story is about storm risk levels and is not specific to a weather event forecast on March 2, 2023.

When severe thunderstorms move across North Texas, you'll likely hear references to the SPC risks such as "Slight," "Enhanced," "Moderate" or "High." But, you're asking, "What does that mean?"

"SPC" refers to the Storm Prediction Center, an office of the National Weather Service based in Norman, Oklahoma, that monitors severe weather threats across the United States. These threats include the potential for thunderstorms, hail, damaging wind and tornadoes but also for winter weather and wildfire outbreaks

When severe weather is possible, the SPC will issue color-coded risk categories over areas that represent the level of the perceived threat.

WHAT DOES A LEVEL 1 MARGINAL RISK MEAN?

A marginal risk means a risk of isolated severe thunderstorms that are expected to be limited in coverage and intensity. This is the lowest on the scale of severe thunderstorms.

The National Weather Service defines a severe thunderstorm as one with wind gusts of at least 58 mph and/or hail to at least one inch in diameter and/or a tornado. All thunderstorm categories imply lightning and the potential for flooding. Categories are also tied to the probability of a severe weather event within 25 miles of your location.

WHAT DOES A LEVEL 2 SLIGHT RISK MEAN?

A slight risk means scattered severe thunderstorms are likely. This activity will be short-lived and not widespread.

WHAT DOES A LEVEL 3 ENHANCED RISK MEAN?

An enhanced or higher risk category increases the confidence of a potential widespread or regional severe weather outbreak.

WHAT DOES A LEVEL 4 MODERATE RISK MEAN?

A moderate risk means widespread severe thunderstorms are likely, including long-lived and intense thunderstorms.

WHAT DOES A LEVEL 5 HIGH RISK MEAN?

High risk means widespread severe thunderstorms are expected with particularly intense long-track tornadoes likely. This category is only issued a handful of times a year or even less. A high-risk category is reserved for the most dangerous of severe weather outbreaks.

You can read more on the risk categories from the Storm Prediction Center here.

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