WeatherWeather Blog


Severe Weather Terminology

Posted at 2:59 PM, Mar 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-27 09:58:58-04

On this Monday, we kick off Severe Weather Awareness Week 2018 in both Nebraska and Iowa. All week long we will be covering different aspects of severe weather and what you need to know to stay safe when severe weather occurs. 

Today we are covering severe weather terminology. Some common terms you will hear are "Watch" and "Warning" and it is critical to know the difference between the two. A "Watch" means that you need to be prepared because severe weather is possible. You should stay up to date on the forecast, be monitoring the sky, and know where to shelter ahead of time.  

A "Warning" means that severe weather is imminent or occurring. You should take shelter in your safe place immediately, seek more information once you are sheltering, and continue to check the forecast for updates. The National Weather Service issues watches and warnings and then relays the information to the public through alert systems and broadcast meteorologists. 

Each day, the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma issues Convective Outlooks that highlight areas where severe weather is possible. Severe Thunderstorms are broken up into different categories. The "Marginal" risk means that isolated severe storms are possible. The categories then go "Slight," "Enhanced," "Moderate," and "High." The "High" risk category means that widespread severe storms are expected.  

Another term you may hear is "Particularly Dangerous Situation" or "PDS." The "PDS" watches are used rarely, but a PDS Thunderstorm Watch is issued when there is a threat of a widespread wind damage event. A PDS Tornado Watch is issued when there is high confidence in numerous strong, long-lived tornadoes. 

Severe Weather Awareness Week continues each day this week with the following topics: 

Tuesday: Thunderstorms 
Wednesday: Tornadoes 
Thursday: Lightning 
Friday: Flooding 
Saturday: How to Report Severe Weather