What are convective outlooks and how can they keep you prepared in times of severe weather?

Storm or Convective Outlooks put out by the Storm Prediction Center play an important role in staying prepared for severe weather. The Storm Team breaks down the categories of each risk.

Posted: Mar 23, 2021 4:40 PM
Updated: Mar 23, 2021 5:39 PM

WABASH VALLEY (WTHI) - The Storm Team always keeps you ahead of the storm. One of the many tools they use to keep you informed of impending severe weather is the Storm Prediction Center's Convective Outlooks. 

These outlooks go from stage 0 to stage 5. Each has a designated color. With green being a less severe event. Then pink or magenta being the highest risk.

  • General Thunderstorms -TSTM - (light green) - General or non-severe thunderstorms - Delineates, to the right of a line, where a 10% or greater probability of thunderstorms is forecast during the valid period.
  • Stage 1 - MRGL (dark green) - Marginal risk - An area of severe storms of either limited organization and longevity or very low coverage and marginal intensity.
  • Stage 2 - SLGT (yellow) - Slight risk - An area of organized severe storms, which is not widespread in coverage with varying levels of intensity.
  • Stage 3 - ENH (orange) - Enhanced risk - An area of greater (relative to Slight risk) severe storm coverage with varying levels of intensity.
  • Stage 4 - MDT (red) - Moderate risk - An area where widespread severe weather with several tornadoes and/or numerous severe thunderstorms is likely, some of which should be intense. This risk is usually reserved for days with several supercells producing intense tornadoes and/or very large hail, or an intense squall line with widespread damaging winds.
  • Stage 5 - HIGH (magenta) - High risk - An area where a severe weather outbreak is expected from either numerous intense and long-tracked tornadoes or a long-lived derecho-producing thunderstorm complex that produces hurricane-force wind gusts and widespread damage. This risk is reserved for when high confidence exists in widespread coverage of severe weather with embedded instances of extreme severe (i.e., violent tornadoes or very damaging convective wind events).

These outlooks can go into detail about what you can expect with the incoming severe weather. Damaging winds, large hail, or tornadoes can all be looked at in detail within these outlooks. 

They are updated at different times:  (Z denotes Zulu time which is Universal Time)

  • Day 1 Convective Outlook - 0600Z*, 1300Z*, 1630Z*, 2000Z*, and 0100Z*
  • Day 2 Convective Outlook - 2:00 AM (EST and EDT) and 1730Z*
  • Day 3 Convective Outlook - 3:30 AM (EST and EDT)
  • Day 4-8 Severe Weather Outlook - 5:00 AM (EST and EDT)

For current Storm Prediction Center Outlooks, go to www.spc.noaa.gov/products/outlook/.

For more information on how these outlooks are created and how they can be used, go to www.spc.noaa.gov/misc/about.html.

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