Weekend Weather Blog: Understanding the Risks of Severe Weather

TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) – On Saturday, April 16, the Storm Prediction Center issued a marginal risk for severe thunderstorms, citing damaging winds and hail as potential severe weather threats throughout the KMVT viewing area . What does this mean for you, however? In this week’s weekend weather blog, we’ll walk you through each of the extreme weather hazards and what you need to do to prepare.

There are 5 levels of severe weather risk, and each is related to the coverage and (often) the intensity of the severe weather threat. Let’s start with the most commonly quoted risk – marginal risk. This is emitted when the ingredients are in place, but these ingredients are usually weak or disorganized. This means that, of all the storms that arise in this environment, only one or two will reach high winds, hail or perhaps a tornado.

Tier two is low risk. This is emitted when the ingredients are slightly stronger and more organized for storms to draw from. This means that, of all the storms that arise in the low risk zone, about half of them will reach severe characteristics. However, the intensity of the features (i.e. the strength of the winds or the size of the hail) are likely to be on the lower end of the severity scale.

Level three is increased risk. This is issued when there is a high certainty that the ingredients in place will generate multiple severe thunderstorms in the area of ​​increased risk. There may also be one or two thunderstorms in this risk zone that reach significant severe weather, such as hail larger than a golf ball or winds above 70 mph.

Level 4 corresponds to moderate risk. This is when severe weather outbreaks are likely and are only issued when the ingredients in place are almost certain to produce widespread severe thunderstorms. One or two major violent thunderstorms are expected in the event of moderate risk, causing significant property damage.

Finally, level 5 corresponds to high risk. This is usually only issued in extreme cases of extreme weather conditions and is rare. If your location is at high risk for severe thunderstorms, there is a good chance of memorable severe weather and a tornado outbreak. Significant and widespread severe weather is expected on high-risk days, with loss of life and severe property damage. It is rare that a high risk is issued.

Fortunately, Idaho typically sees only marginal chance of severe weather, with only one or two severe thunderstorms for any given event. However, just because it’s a marginal risk doesn’t mean you won’t see potential damage. In fact, last summer Buhl suffered extensive damage from a microburst. This produced very strong winds and knocked down many trees.

What can you do to stay prepared? It is important to keep in mind that these hazards themselves are not severe weather warnings and do not guarantee that a location will see a severe thunderstorm that day. This does mean, however, that you need to listen for potential warnings that may be issued later today. If you are placed under a warning, it means that it is time to act.

Chances are, if you’re in a severe thunderstorm or tornado warning, you’ll have at least 5 minutes to make final preparations. Make sure your car is protected under a shed or garage to prevent it from being damaged by hail or falling trees. Go into a room away from windows to make sure you are sheltered from the outside elements. If you’re driving on the roads, it’s best to park at a nearby gas station, convenience store, or restaurant until the storm passes.

Mobile homes are also not an ideal location for inclement weather. Travel to a structure built on the site nearby and take cover until the threat has passed

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