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First Alert Storm Week - Severe Weather Outlooks and how we use them

Published: Apr. 5, 2021 at 3:00 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - To start of our First Alert Storm Week coverage, I’m going to discuss how Severe Weather Outlooks are used and what they mean to you in advance of potential severe weather.

Even before we have watches and warnings issued, we are able to tell you what areas of the country may be prone to severe weather up to 3 days in advance and in some instances up to 7 days. The Storm Prediction Center will issue what are called Severe Weather Outlooks for today, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow for areas that have a higher likelihood of the severe weather. Maps may look like this on some of the worst severe weather days we have in the forecast.

Severe Outlook Example
Severe Outlook Example(WOWT)

The scale and color scheme used ranges on a scale from 1 to 5 with Marginal being the lowest threat and High being the greatest threat. There are criteria and expectations that make up each range in the forecast when these maps are made. Here is a graphic that details what each of the different colors may mean for you or your area.

Severe Outlook Explainer
Severe Outlook Explainer(WOWT)

It must be stated the every single spot in these areas WILL NOT see severe weather. That’s just not how it works. These areas more or less have the ingredients needed for severe weather to develop and should be on alert as the severe threat approaches.

The type of severe weather threat will often be discussed on both today’s and tomorrow’s outlook as well. The individual risk pertaining to tornadoes, hail and strong wind will be outlined as well. The risk of each threat is assessed using percentages. Those percentages pertain to the possibility of severe weather happening within 25 miles of your location.

From this information on the day of the severe weather potential, Severe Thunderstorm and Tornado Watches will then be issued that day leading up to the development of severe weather with warnings soon to follow. You can always find the latest severe weather outlook for today and tomorrow on the bottom of our weather page.

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