Broadcast meteorologists work alongside the Storm Prediction Center to forecast and communicate a consistent message about severe storm threats.
The level we see the most here in North Dakota is the lowest-end threat. That’s marginal. This means that isolated storms could become severe. Usually about one or two could become severe.
The next level is slight. This means scattered severe storms are possible.
Next, the enhanced level means numerous severe storms will become severe. It’s not unusual to see this enhanced risk here in North Dakota, but we don’t see it often.
Another rare category for us is the moderate risk. This means widespread, long-lived severe storms are favored to happen.
The highest threat level is called just that, high. This means widespread severe storms are expected. These will be long-lived and particularly intense.
It’s important to note that any storm, whether severe or not, can be dangerous due to lightning. No storm gets a warning because of lighting. It would be from hail and wind only. So it’s important to pay attention to storms at any threat level even if they may not become severe.
The Storm Prediction Center is looking to refine this system to make it even easier to understand your threat level for the day. So within the next few years, we should see a change for the better in this system. Social scientists have been working on this for years already. It could consist of easy to understand numbers and symbols, just like we all understand the stop light colors and a wi-fi signal’s strength.