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Understanding Your Weather Risk

This is the time of year when wild weather swings can make it feel like winter one day and spring the next. Variations in the jet stream draw cold air southward, clashing with emerging warm Gulf air. Changes in vertical wind speed introduce the spin needed to develop tornadic storms.

Meteorologists at the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma seek to anticipate these conditions several days in advance in a big picture “heads up” Every day, they produce a convective outlook for the succeeding three days and rate threats on this 6-level scale:

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That is usually drawn on a map of the U.S. like this:

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The idea is to provide a sense of what kind of weather is expected. However, care needs to be taken when interpreting risk based on several factors as the scale isn’t quite a “one-size-fits-all” solution.

For example, a slight risk in south Texas might not be the same as one for Kansas. While tornadoes may form on a Slight Risk day, the ones in Corpus Christ might be fairly weak, whereas the Kansas counterparts on that same day may be more destructive. Also, the size of the risk area may vary greatly depending on geography, time of year, etc. The classifications (Marginal, Slight, etc.) are meant to indicate the range of possibilities, not specifics.

Also, the Outlook is just that – an overview based on current conditions or anticipated changes in those conditions in time. A computer model may project a developing storm system which doesn’t pan out or one of the three key factors for storms (lift, wind shear and moisture) may be lacking.

Nevertheless, it is a good guide for anticipating storm threats days in advance. This can give your business a competitive advantage because you can adjust staffing and productive schedules. Also, you can alert suppliers and possibly consider locating backups in the event needed deliveries can’t be made.

The Outlook is just the first step in following the development of anticipated severe weather. Once storm systems begin to get more organized, SPC issues watches indicating counties and states where storms are expected and for how long. Watches can put in motion a heightened set of preparedness steps for your organization, but remember, it is still not a guarantee that you will have an impact.

Ultimately, you need to take immediate action when a warning is issued but having the foresight to understand threats days in advance can put you ahead of the game. This is often why those in emergency roles start their day by checking out this handy government-run site.

We specialize in assisting a variety of businesses nationwide know when danger is imminent, so they can take quick safety action ad avoid unnecessary disruptions. Perhaps you have just endured a recent weather threat and found your current system lacking. Or, you don’t have an adequate way to know about danger, we invite you to schedule a demo of our solution. You likely want to be aware of all options, especially when they are as cost-effective as ours.

Gene Norman is a Certified Broadcast Meteorologist who has helped businesses enhance their safety process as well as provided weather education to community and civic organizations. Learn more about how WeatherCall Enterprise helps businesses with their continuity plans here.