Severe Weather Awareness Week: Day 1

Severe Weather Awareness Week: Day 1

March 25-29 is Severe Weather Awareness Week in Nebraska and Iowa. Each day, a different aspect of severe weather will be highlighted, explaining the science behind it, and how you can stay safe when severe weather threatens. This article will focus on how severe weather watches and warnings work, as well as an explanation of the severe weather threat scale.

Extreme climate threat scale

To describe the threat of severe weather, a scale of 1 to 5 is used to describe the specific risk of severe weather that parts of eastern Nebraska and western Iowa could experience on a given day. A year, we see about 50 days in some type of severe weather risk. The scale from 1 to 5 is based on the intensity and coverage of storms.


Colors of the severe weather threat scale. Forecast is based on severe weather threat as of June 3, 2014, last level 5/5 for eastern Nebraska and western Iowa.

Level 1 (green) – This is the lowest risk. While thunderstorms are possible, the overall risk of severe weather is low. These winds could produce damaging winds, large hail, or an isolated tornado, but they will not be widespread.

Level 2 (yellow) – Danger Level 2 is the “standard” risk for severe weather. Some thunderstorms are expected to become severe with large hail, damaging winds and the possibility of some tornadoes. Of the 50 extreme climate risks we see annually, about 35 are Level 2 or higher.

Level 3 (orange) Level 3 risk is when the chances of severe weather increase. At Level 3 risk, many storms are expected to become severe with large to very large hail, large damaging winds, and many possible tornadoes with a few on the stronger side. Of the 50 extreme climate threats we experience annually, about 3 are at level 3 or higher.

Level 4 (red) – A Level 4 threat is issued when severe weather or a tornado outbreak is expected. A Level 4 risk is relatively rare in Nebraska and Iowa. The last time a Level 4 threat was issued for our area as of March 2024 was December 15, 2021, when our viewing area saw more than 30 tornadoes. At Level 4 risk, one can expect widespread large hail, damaging winds, and numerous tornadoes with the possibility of a few strong tornadoes.

Level 5 (pink) – Level 5 risk is the highest category indicating severe weather or a historic hurricane. Level 5 risks are rare anywhere in the United States, including Nebraska and Iowa. Since 1987, only 21 Level 5 hazards have been issued, including Omaha. The last time we saw a risk level of 5 was June 3, 2014, almost 10 years ago! (That day was a hailstorm for Blair.)

Watch vs. Warn: What’s the difference?

a He watches It means that conditions are ripe for severe weather to develop, but it is not imminent. a Watch for severe thunderstorms This means that conditions are favorable for the development of storms capable of producing large hailstones and damaging winds. Meanwhile, A Tornado watch It means that conditions are not just favorable for tornadoes to develop. Watches are typically issued over several hours and extend over a wider geographic area where conditions are favourable. Watch means paying attention to the weather, but you don’t need to take any urgent action.



*Not a current watch* Example of a tornado watch. The watches cover a larger geographic area where conditions are conducive to severe weather.

A warning means that the risk of severe weather is occurring or imminent in your specific area. a Severe thunderstorm warning It means that a severe thunderstorm is occurring or is imminent. a Tornado warning It means a hurricane has occurred or is imminent in a specific place. The warning lasts less than an hour until the threat is transferred or weakened. Warnings also cover a smaller geographic area, usually less than the size of a county depending on the storm.

Severe weather warnings


*Not a current warning* Example of a severe thunderstorm warning over the Omaha metro. Warnings are issued for smaller areas and for shorter periods.

Ways to get severe weather alerts

Nowadays, there are many ways to receive weather alerts. Remember to have it Multiple ways to get alerts If any of them fail. The more ways you can be alerted to severe weather, the more likely you are to get a warning and take action. Here are some ways to receive alerts:

Weather Radio -You can purchase a weather radio from most stores. These alarm sounds when an alert is issued. You can program it to sound for specific alerts only. Weather radios will alert you with watches and warnings.

Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) – Most phones have this feature pre-installed and turned on. This is the same system that Amber Alerts are sent to. Will wireless emergency alerts Sound only in a tornado warning or severe thunderstorm warning where the risks are baseball-sized hail and/or winds greater than 80 mph. Even though it’s automatically enabled on your phone, make sure it’s enabled by checking your WEA settings.

the television -At the bottom of our screen there is a link that displays any watches and warnings in effect. This should be a secondary way to get alerts, as the TV must be turned on to see the alerts.

Phone applications – Hundreds of phone apps will alert you when dangerous weather is approaching, and some are more reliable than others. Both the 3NewsNow app and the Storm Sheild app have alerts that sound for hazardous weather, and these alerts are customizable.

Outdoor siren -Although outdoor sirens are useful, they should be It will never be your only way to get alerts Because it is intended for outdoor use. Even if you can hear it indoors, the chances of hearing it in the middle of the night during a severe thunderstorm are lower. Therefore, you have multiple ways to receive alerts!

(tags translatable) KMTV Weather

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *