Lightning Detection Warning System
Lightning Detection Warning System

What is Severe Weather? Basics from a Meteorologist

Severe weather is almost an all-encompassing term, meaning different things to different people. There are plenty of different types of severe weather, which is why there are so many perspectives and understandings on this topic.  If we were to go by the textbook definition, then “Severe Weather” is any meteorological phenomenon that causes property damage, death, and community dysfunction.  Seems grim, however, knowing the basics will go a long way in being prepared for any misfortune. Here are some basics to know about severe weather, from one of our expert meteorologists!

Types of Severe Weather

Going back to what I mentioned earlier, when we think of severe weather, we think of many different things.   This is for good reason, because, there are many different types of severe weather, all of which are dangerous in their own right.  Some more popular types you might be familiar with are thunderstorms and lightning, tornadoes, hurricanes, flash floods, hail, and blizzards.  There are also others that fly under the radar like damaging winds, ice storms, dust storms, and heat waves.  Now of course not all of this applies to everyone, Arizona isn’t in any danger of white out blizzard conditions and Illinois is not in any serious danger from a dust storm kicking up in the middle of December. 

That being said, you should turn your focus to understanding what matters to you, and although I can’t read minds and appeal to a very niche example, I can give guidance on some essentials to consider.      

Severe Weather 101

To better equip you with the knowledge us meteorologists have, let’s go over some informational tidbits anyone can, and should, utilize.  A common resource many meteorologists use is the National Weather Service (NWS) Storm Prediction Center (SPC).  This page is chock-full of useful information, but what you should focus on is the “Convective Outlook” which essentially defines the potentially affected storm areas and likelihood.  If you want, you always have Storm Reports, watches, and weather discussions to refer to in order to monitor local activity. 

Another factor to keep an eye out for are issued watches and warnings.  Any watches/warnings that go into effect will be issued on a county by county basis and give you the “need-to-know” details that are happening.  A key thing to understand is the difference between watches and warnings, they may sound the same, but they are not! A storm “watch” is less severe, and means that there is a potential for the development of extreme weather. For example, in the case of a tornado watch, it doesn’t mean there has been a tornado sighting (common misconception), but instead that the conditions are favorable for the potential formation of a tornado. A storm “warning” is more serious, and means a severe storm has already developed in the area or is expected to begin imminently. There are other specific differences, however that’s a discussion for another day.

Finally, the best thing to have during a severe weather event is a plan!  Yes, a plan of action is going to go a long way in preventing injury and death in the case of a severe weather event.   The best way to do this would be to locate your nearest storm shelter and map the best route to get there. You should also make sure to put together a package of emergency supply essentials.

It’s important to be aware of severe weather conditions, what the weather alerts are actually telling you, and what to do at each key alert. This is especially important for colleges, universities, golf courses, and other types of outdoor venues that are often responsible for the safety of their visitors, staff, students, and more. Our real-time weather alert software can help you track the key weather metrics that your organization cares about, including WBGT, lightning strikes in the area, and more.


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What is Severe Weather? Basics from a Meteorologist

Severe weather is almost an all-encompassing term, meaning different things to different people. There are plenty of different types of severe weather, which is why there are so many perspectives and understandings on this topic.  If we were to go by the textbook definition, then “Severe Weather” is any meteorological phenomenon that causes property damage, death, and community dysfunction.  Seems grim, however, knowing the basics will go a long way in being prepared for any misfortune. Here are some basics to know about severe weather, from one of our expert meteorologists!

Types of Severe Weather

Going back to what I mentioned earlier, when we think of severe weather, we think of many different things.   This is for good reason, because, there are many different types of severe weather, all of which are dangerous in their own right.  Some more popular types you might be familiar with are thunderstorms and lightning, tornados, hurricanes, flash floods, hail, and blizzards.  There are also others that fly under the radar like damaging winds, ice storms, dust storms, and heat waves.  Now of course not all of this applies to everyone, Arizona isn’t in any danger of white out blizzard conditions and Illinois is not in any serious danger from a dust storm kicking up in the middle of December. 

That being said, you should turn your focus to understanding what matters to you, and although I can’t read minds and appeal to a very niche example, I can give guidance on some essentials to consider.      

Severe Weather 101

To better equip you with the knowledge us meteorologists have, let’s go over some informational tidbits anyone can, and should, utilize.  A common resource many meteorologists use is the National Weather Service (NWS) Storm Prediction Center (SPC).  This page is chock-full of useful information, but what you should focus on is the “Convective Outlook” which essentially defines the potentially affected storm areas and likelihood.  If you want, you always have Storm Reports, watches, and weather discussions to refer to in order to monitor local activity. 

Another factor to keep an eye out for are issued watches and warnings.  Any watches/warnings that go into effect will be issued on a county by county basis and give you the “need-to-know” details that are happening.  A key thing to understand is the difference between watches and warnings, they may sound the same, but they are not! A storm “watch” is less severe, and means that there is a potential for the development of extreme weather. For example, in the case of a tornado watch, it doesn’t mean there has been a tornado sighting (common misconception), but instead that the conditions are favorable for the potential formation of a tornado. A storm “warning” is more serious, and means a severe storm has already developed in the area or is expected to begin imminently. There are other specific differences, however that’s a discussion for another day.

Finally, the best thing to have during a severe weather event is a plan!  Yes, a plan of action is going to go a long way in preventing injury and death in the case of a severe weather event.   The best way to do this would be to locate your nearest storm shelter and map the best route to get there. You should also make sure to put together a package of emergency supply essentials.

It’s important to be aware of severe weather conditions, what the weather alerts are actually telling you, and what to do at each key alert. This is especially important for colleges, universities, golf courses, and other types of outdoor venues that are often responsible for the safety of their visitors, staff, students, and more. Our real-time weather alert software can help you track the key weather metrics that your organization cares about, including WBGT, lightning strikes in the area, and more.

What is Severe Weather? Basics from a Meteorologist

Severe weather is almost an all-encompassing term, meaning different things to different people. There are plenty of different types of severe weather, which is why there are so many perspectives and understandings on this topic.  If we were to go by the textbook definition, then “Severe Weather” is any meteorological phenomenon that causes property damage, death, and community dysfunction.  Seems grim, however, knowing the basics will go a long way in being prepared for any misfortune. Here are some basics to know about severe weather, from one of our expert meteorologists!

Types of Severe Weather

Going back to what I mentioned earlier, when we think of severe weather, we think of many different things.   This is for good reason, because, there are many different types of severe weather, all of which are dangerous in their own right.  Some more popular types you might be familiar with are thunderstorms and lightning, tornados, hurricanes, flash floods, hail, and blizzards.  There are also others that fly under the radar like damaging winds, ice storms, dust storms, and heat waves.  Now of course not all of this applies to everyone, Arizona isn’t in any danger of white out blizzard conditions and Illinois is not in any serious danger from a dust storm kicking up in the middle of December. 

That being said, you should turn your focus to understanding what matters to you, and although I can’t read minds and appeal to a very niche example, I can give guidance on some essentials to consider.      

Severe Weather 101

To better equip you with the knowledge us meteorologists have, let’s go over some informational tidbits anyone can, and should, utilize.  A common resource many meteorologists use is the National Weather Service (NWS) Storm Prediction Center (SPC).  This page is chock-full of useful information, but what you should focus on is the “Convective Outlook” which essentially defines the potentially affected storm areas and likelihood.  If you want, you always have Storm Reports, watches, and weather discussions to refer to in order to monitor local activity. 

Another factor to keep an eye out for are issued watches and warnings.  Any watches/warnings that go into effect will be issued on a county by county basis and give you the “need-to-know” details that are happening.  A key thing to understand is the difference between watches and warnings, they may sound the same, but they are not! A storm “watch” is less severe, and means that there is a potential for the development of extreme weather. For example, in the case of a tornado watch, it doesn’t mean there has been a tornado sighting (common misconception), but instead that the conditions are favorable for the potential formation of a tornado. A storm “warning” is more serious, and means a severe storm has already developed in the area or is expected to begin imminently. There are other specific differences, however that’s a discussion for another day.

Finally, the best thing to have during a severe weather event is a plan!  Yes, a plan of action is going to go a long way in preventing injury and death in the case of a severe weather event.   The best way to do this would be to locate your nearest storm shelter and map the best route to get there. You should also make sure to put together a package of emergency supply essentials.

It’s important to be aware of severe weather conditions, what the weather alerts are actually telling you, and what to do at each key alert. This is especially important for colleges, universities, golf courses, and other types of outdoor venues that are often responsible for the safety of their visitors, staff, students, and more. Our real-time weather alert software can help you track the key weather metrics that your organization cares about, including WBGT, lightning strikes in the area, and more.