The PGA has a commercial showing some great golf shots saying…”These Guys Are Good”. Likewise, the Storm Prediction Center has some awesome forecasters who really know their stuff. However, several years ago, some “ social scientists” believed the public didn’t understand the words (slight, moderate, high) SPC used to warn of severe weather risks. They influenced the high ups at NOAA (government) to add 2 categories (Marginal & Enhanced) to the list. Since I’m retired, I can now watch more TV and was amused tonight seeing all channels use the marginal, slight & enhanced terminology as if the viewer knew what they meant. I frankly, don’t know what they mean! So I looked them up on the SPC website where I found many confusing words…isolated, scattered, numerous, widespread & then…possible, likely, expected. Wow, no wonder the public is confused. During my career, I always tried to point out the “bullseye” of the SPC risk area and which way it was shifting. I always tried to downplay the risk unless we were in the moderate to high area. Unfortunately, now with 2 additional categories, it’s very difficult to understand what your severe weather risk really is. So let me help;
Marginal – situated at border or edge, minimal, barely enough. Translation… CMB Cover My Butt
Slight – insignificant, minimal, remote, slim, tiny. Translation…Probably no big deal, but enough risk to not ignore.
Enhanced - Increased, improved, magnify. Translation…certainly time to keep up on latest radar/weather reports. Tornado threat is real
Moderate – Modest, medium. Seems to me enhanced & moderate should be swapped. Translation…Very good chance for tornadoes with many casualties.
High – Great risk for tornadoes. Translation…many people will die in widespread outbreak
What causes moderate to high risk areas? Almost always it’s the “split” (diffluence) between the sub-tropical jet stream and a well defined upper area of low pressure. Fortunately for south Louisiana that doesn’t happen often where the split is over us. If you can believe SPC (these guys are good), the “bullseye” for severe storms will stay to our north. Computer models seem to be agreeing with that. Let’s hope so as our greater threat appears to be more heavy rainfall (2-4”+) that will come in waves for the next 2 days. Stay tuned!