Breakdown: Why you should pay attention to colors in severe weather season

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Severe weather is a common occurrence in the Mid-South during all four seasons but especially in the upcoming spring season. When it comes to strong and severe storms, understanding what the colors and text means could better help you prepare for incoming severe weather.

In this episode of the Breakdown, we will explain the Severe Weather Risk categories and what plan of action you need to take based on color/severity.

When severe weather is on the way, days in advance, the First Alert Weather team will show you graphics from the Storm Prediction Center (SPC).

This graphic shows the categories and the risk are ranked from marginal to high risk.

Severe weather categories
Severe weather categories (Source: Severe weather categories)

Level 1 – Marginal Risk (MRGL). This is colored in dark green. This risk area means isolated severe thunderstorms are possible. These events will be limited in duration and/or coverage and/or intensity.

Level 2 – Slight Risk (SLGT). This is colored in yellow. This risk area means that scattered severe storms are possible. Short-lived and/or not widespread, isolated intense storms possible.

Level 3 – Enhanced Risk (ENH). This is colored in orange. This risk area means numerous severe storms are possible. More persistent and/or widespread, a few storms could be intense.

Level 4 – Moderate Risk (MDT). This is colored in red. This means that widespread severe storms are likely. Long-lived widespread and intense across the risk area.

Level 5 – High Risk (HIGH). This is colored purple or fuchsia. This means that widespread severe storms are expected. Long-lived, very widespread and particularly intense in nature.

The SPC also issues General Thunderstorms. This is colored in light green. This means that no severe storms are expected. Lightning and flooding threats will exist with all thunderstorms.

When storms are in the forecast, understanding what the risk levels are and what it means could be the difference between life and death. In fact, your plan of action should change based on the categories.

Develop a Tornado Safety Kit

Always stay weather aware by having multiple ways to receive watches and warnings.

  • Two methods of getting warnings: a battery-operated radio (NOAA weather radio and download the free WMC Action News 5 First Alert Weather)

In categories 1 & 2, monitor and be prepared.

In categories 2 through 5, do the above plus the following:

  • Don’t just monitor but be prepared to take action, you must be able to get to your safe shelter area quickly - you may only have seconds
  • Have your Tornado Safety Kit On Hand
  • Check weather information at least hourly.
  • Stay with the First Alert Weather Team and we will keep you up-to-date when severe weather threatens

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