Storm forecasters adding extra layers to warnings

By KELLY P. KISSEL, AP Published: August 12, 2014
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The National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center said Monday it will add two threat levels to its weather outlooks so people aren’t surprised by really bad storms on days with just a “slight risk” of tornadoes, hail or high winds.

Beginning Oct. 22, forecasters can say whether slight risk days are “enhanced” or “marginal” or just plain “slight.” Other categories remain, including “high” and “moderate.”

The Norman, Oklahoma-based center traditionally targeted local forecasters and broadcasters across the U.S. with their advisories, known as “convective outlooks,” but the Internet makes that data available to anyone with a computer and basic scientific knowledge.

“We serve a very diverse group,” said Greg Carbin, the center’s warning coordination meteorologist. “We have a hybrid audience of highly sophisticated decision-makers,” ranging from “expert users of weather information” to “the head of the household in those parts of the country that are often targeted by severe weather.”

The Storm Prediction Center for years classified the risk as high, moderate or slight, “and you can have killer storms in a slight risk,” Carbin said.

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