Wednesday's Weather Word: Risk

Severe Weather Risk Levels Explained
Posted at 8:24 AM, Mar 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-01 09:11:55-05

What's up with risk?

You've probably heard your local meteorologist talk about the area being under a risk of severe weather from the Storm Prediction Center. There are also different levels of "risk" categorized by the SPC. So, what do those risk levels mean exactly?

The risk levels are important to understanding the extent and type of severe weather expected for your area. In the picture below, the area shaded in brown is under an enhanced risk of severe weather. Several tornado warnings and severe thunderstorm warnings took place in this area Wednesday morning. 


There are five levels of elevated risk recognized by the Storm Prediction Center.

Marginal Risk is the lowest level of elevated risk: This is associated with isolated severe storms and a low tornado risk. Storm coverage isn't expected to be widespread, intense or long-lasting.

The next level is a Slight Risk: This is associated with scattered severe storms and one or two tornadoes. Isolated intense storms are possible but are not expected to be widespread or long-lived.

The third level of risk is Enhanced Risk: This is associated with numerous severe storms that are widespread and more continuous. A few tornadoes are expected.

Moderate Risk: This is when the risk level is really ramping up and widespread severe storms are likely. This is almost a guarantee that some severe weather will be seen. Strong tornadoes are possible.

The most elevated risk level is High Risk: This level isn't often forecast but when it is it means dangerous weather for the area included in the risk. Widespread, long-lived, very intense storms are expected. Generally this would mean a tornado outbreak or severe wind event known as a Derecho.

It is important to remember that these risk levels are general categorizations and do not mean more severe weather can't take place.

Now you know the low down on this Wednesday's Weather Word, risk.