US weather service increases detail in forecasts of storm threat

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The US Storm Prediction Center (SPC) is stepping up the accuracy of its weather forecasts by extending its forecasts for severe weather risk by a day.

Until now, the center, the branch of the US National Weather Service responsible for monitoring extreme weather, has only offered its risk forecasts for the same day. But beginning at the end of January the agency has extended them in to the following day’s forecast.

The risk forecasts use an ascending five-category scale to describe the overall risk for severe thunderstorms. The categories which range from ‘marginal risk’ to ‘high risk’ assess the probability of severe weather phenomenon such as damaging winds, large hail or tornadoes.

The SPC’s decision to extend the risk categories to two days reflects advances in meteorological research and higher accuracy weather models. The new risk categories for the next day began appearing on the SPC’s convective outlook page on January 30.

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