Slight means what?
I thought it was time to share with you a pet peeve of mine. I believe that one of the worst things that an on air meteorologist can do, is explain that there is a slight risk of severe weather on a day that you expect a tornado watch!
See, what a meteorologist looks at to consider “slight” when it comes to severe is completely different than what they look at and expect when it comes to a “slight” chance of rain.
Example. Todays forecast: Partly cloudy with a slight chance of a shower.
Ok based on that, what would you think the percentage of rain would be? 20%? You guessed it…relatively low.
Ok if a meteorologist gets on tv and says “the nations storm prediction center has us outlooked with a slight risk of severe weather today” that is completely different! A slight risk of severe weather as defined by a meteorologist is actually the type risk that will usually require some sort of watch or warning…but you know what? The general public still thinks it means a 20% chance.
How do we fix this? In my opinion, either we don’t use the word SLIGHT at all on severe weather days, or we spend at least 60 seconds out of our 3 minute and 30 second weathercast explaining the difference in a slight chance of rain and a slight risk of severe weather. I for one think the latter choice is completely insane.
Why not use the word “enhanced”? or something like that? Let me copy and paste what the terms slight, moderate, and high actually mean as definted by SPC (storm prediction center).
Three risk categories (SLGT, MDT, and HIGH) are used to symbolize the coverage and intensity of the expected severe weather threat. A SLGT risk implies well-organized severe thunderstorms are expected, but in small numbers and/or low coverage. Depending on the size of the area, approximately 5-25 reports of Â¾ inch of larger hail, and/or 5-25 wind events, and/or 1-5 tornadoes would be possible.
A MDT risk indicates a potential for a greater concentration of severe thunderstorms than the slight risk, and in most situations, greater magnitude of the severe weather.
A HIGH risk area suggests a major severe weather outbreak is expected, with a high concentration of severe weather reports and an enhanced likelihood of extreme severe (i.e., violent tornadoes or very damaging convective wind events occurring across a large area). In a high risk, the potential exists for 20 or more tornadoes, some possibly F2 or stronger, or an extreme derecho potentially causing widespread wind damage and higher end wind gusts (80+ mph) that may result in structural damage.
A SEE TEXT label will be used for areas where a 5% probability of severe is forecast, but the coverage or intensity is not expected to be sufficient for a slight risk.
Well there you have, slight isn’t always slight so we shouldn’t mislead our viewers into thinking anything else! End of soapbox!