Storm forecasters to add pair of threat levels
The National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center said on Monday it will add two threat levels to its weather outlooks so people aren't surprised by bad storms on days with just a “slight risk” of tornadoes, hail or high wind.
Beginning Oct. 22, forecasters can say whether slight risk days are “enhanced” or “marginal” or just “slight.” Other categories remain, including “high” and “moderate.”
The Norman, Okla.-based center traditionally targeted local forecasters and broadcasters across the United States with their advisories, known as “convective outlooks,” but the Internet makes that data available to anyone with a computer and basic scientific knowledge.
“We serve a very diverse group,” said Greg Carbin, the center's warning coordination meteorologist. “We have a hybrid audience of highly sophisticated decision-makers,” ranging from “expert users of weather information” to “the head of the household in those parts of the country that are often targeted by severe weather.”
The Storm Prediction Center for years classified the risk as high, moderate or slight, “and you can have killer storms in a slight risk,” Carbin said.
The system mimics scales for tornado damage, hurricane strength and the former Homeland Security terrorist threat sale.
“It gets us to five categories. Now we have a scheme where we can rank something 1-5,” Carbin said.
A public comment period drew 700 responses, mostly from individuals, government officials and the media. About two-thirds said they used the outlooks at least once daily, and 87 percent of them said they liked the idea. Some, however, said extra colors made the map confusing.
Carbin said television broadcasters didn't like the term “slight risk,” fearing viewers often interpret that as “no risk.” He said they were free to develop terms.
“I don't care if you use ‘slight' or ‘a 2-out-of-5 chance,' as long as the general understanding of risk is conveyed,” he said.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
- Lawyer reveals details of arrest of ‘clock kid’ Ahmed, plans to file suit
- U.S. troops suspended in airstrike on Afghan hospital
- Student dies in traditional Ohio State University lake jump
- Obama, Hollande pledge solidarity against Islamic State
- Self-driving vehicles closer to getting green light as feds ease stance
- Barrier nears completion in Indiana marsh to keep Asian carp from Great Lakes
- Company backs away from pledge to cut drug’s $750-per-pill price
- Video prompts calls for probe of Chicago police
- ‘Gene drive’ used to create malaria-resistant mosquitoes
- Planned Parenthood sues Texas over blocked Medicaid dollars
- Police hunt suspects in shootout at New Orleans playground