Understanding what a severe risk means - WNEM TV 5

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Understanding what a severe risk means

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Its summer time in Mid-Michigan and that means Bar-B Ques, longer days, sunshine, weekends spent up north, and severe thunderstorms.

While thunderstorms or rain may not pull up images of summer in your mind, this time of the year is when Michigan sees the most storms and severe weather. Mid-June through July is considered severe weather season for Michigan. Of course we can see severe storms at any time of the year, but the summer is when we see the best potential and historically the most severe thunderstorms.

Breaking down severe weather

When there is a risk for strong storms the Storm Prediction Center will issue a risk outlook for severe weather. There are different levels that determine how likely, how bad and, how widespread severe weather is expected to be.

Maps like the one below can be confusing sometimes. What do the different colors means and what risk are associated with which.

Here is a breakdown of what those different colors means.

  • If you see dark Green on that map that is a Marginal risk. It is the lowest level of the risk chart. A Marginal risk means there is a 5% chance to see severe storms within the risk region. In this risk isolated storms are possible but not expected and any storms that do become severe will be limited in duration and coverage.
  • Next is a Slight risk (Bright Yellow). This is the next step up on the severe risk ladder. It means there is a 15% chance for severe storms. A slight risk means scattered severe storms are possible, but they will be short-lived and not widespread.
  • The next level up is an Enhanced risk (Orange). This means there is a 30% chance for severe storms. Under this risk numerous severe storms are possible. It also means severe storms are expected to be persistent, widespread, and intense.
  • Moderate Risk (Bright Red) is the next one. A moderate risk is a 45% chance for widespread severe weather. In a moderate risk widespread severe weather is likely with long lived, widespread and intense storms expected.
  • The highest level is a High Risk (Magenta/ Pink). A High risk means there is a 60% chance for severe storms. A High risk is rare and if one is ever issued it would mean widespread severe storms are expected. Any storms in a High risk would be long-lived, very widespread, and particularly intense. (Think Derecho).  

Severe weather no matter what level is always something to take seriously so if you see a risk issued in our area pay attention to the weather through the day.

 Click here to see what criteria must be met for a storms to be considered severe. Or here for how thunderstorms form.

Remember if there is ever a risk for severe weather the First Warn 5 weather team will be here to keep you updated minute by minute! 

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