What to the severe weather risks mean? - WNEM TV 5

First Warn 5

How the SPC defines severe weather risks

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SAGINAW, MI (WNEM) -

It's Severe Weather Awareness Week in the state of Michigan.  The First Warn 5 Weather Team wants you to be ahead of the game and that is why we are educating you this week on what you need to know when it comes to severe weather.

Prior to a day involving severe weather, you may notice the First Warn 5 Weather Team mentioning different risks for severe weather.  There happens to be five different categories that will be used to help you understand the chances for severe weather across Mid-Michigan.  These categories are defined by the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, OK, which is a branch of the National Weather Service.

The lowest category you'll hear the First Warn 5 Weather Team mention is a Marginal Risk.  A Marginal Risk means that there is a small chance for isolated severe storms that are limited in time, coverage, and strength of the storm.  The major concerns on Marginal Risk days include winds of up to 40 to 60 mph, hail up to 1 inch in diameter, and a low tornado risk.

The second category is a Slight Risk.  A Slight Risk means that we are expecting short lived, isolated, intense storms that are not widespread.  The concerns on a Slight Risk day include damaging winds, hail that is 1 to 2 inches in diameter, and the possibility for a tornado.

The third category is an Enhanced Risk.  An Enhanced Risk means that numerous severe storms are expected and compared to the first two categories, the storms are expected to be a little more persistent and widespread.  Major concerns on an Enhanced risk day include wind damage, hail that is 1 to 2 inches in diameter, and the possibility for several tornadoes.

The fourth category is a Moderate Risk.  A Moderate Risk means that we are expecting to see widespread severe storms with more intense storms that are expected to live longer than usual.  The biggest concerns on a Moderate Risk day include widespread wind damage, destructive hail, and strong tornadoes.

The fifth and highest category is a High Risk.  A High Risk means that widespread, long-lived, destructive storms are expected.  This is certainly a category that shouldn't be taken lightly.  The major concerns on a High Risk day include tornado outbreaks, catastrophic hail, and derechoes.

It is important to note that no thunderstorm is the same and that these risk categories are guidelines, not specific criteria.  It is certainly possible to have a Marginal Risk day that produces numerous tornadoes or an Enhanced risk day that produces very little in the way of severe weather.  

The key is to stay weather aware and be prepared if and or when severe weather strikes.

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