Thunderstorm Outlooks Explained 2018
By Justin Poublon
October 2, 2018 - 4:00 PM CST | 19 0
Below is a detailed explanation of what our thunderstorm outlook types mean. Let there be NO confusion.GENERAL-
Just a t-storm, rumble of thunder, embedded thunder. Not too concerned.
STRONG - stronger than average. Storms that can briefly reach severe criteria, contain hail, gusty winds, or even a tornado. It's designed to be flexible. Not something you should ignore, but not something you should get totally worked up over either. We don't want to waste your time. Over the course of the season we may issue a "Strong" forecast 30+ times. Stay weather aware.
SEVERE - Thunderstorms fully capable of severe weather (hail >1" or wind >=58mph or tornadoes). One notch above like shifting into a higher gear. When "Severe" is issued, you should take it more seriously. We are activating your awareness and getting your attention. We take great responsibility and consideration at this level. A "Severe" forecast will only occur 15 or less times per year.
SIGNIFICANT - Think worst of the worst. Evil storms. Think April 10, 2011 or May 30,1998. There is an obviously significant and widespread threat. In the history of Wisconsin Weather (2013 to present) we haven't issued one of these yet. It helps keep things in perspective because events like this will occur. "Significant" will only to be forecast with the highest level of responsibility & consideration. If you see one of these, get ready.
TARGET - Where we predict the biggest impact will be. Usually smaller in coverage spatially because we are trying to add precision. It's NOT an enhancer of risk or extra bonus bonus, it's literally a combination of gut feeling (intuition) and model interpretation that comes with many years of storm chasing. In storm chasing it's referred to as "The Target Area", where the morning prior we can often identify where a tornado will occur down to the city. It bridges the gap between logic and intuition.
Of course, we won't be 100% correct all the time. Nobody is. We are very aware of our performance and create verification maps for each event and keep detailed notes. There are many things I have learned just in the last couple months by writing my predictions on WISCONSINWX.com.
Thank you for reading. Please let me know if you have any questions by commenting below!