What Makes a Storm Severe?

I’ve been forecasting weather for years now and one of the most common things people ask is, “What makes a storm severe?”  With thunderstorms in our forecast this week, I thought I would take the time to discuss this topic.

There are actually three criteria that make up a severe thunderstorm and if any three of these are present, the storm is severe.  They are hail, damaging winds, and a tornado.  However, there are specifications to these elements.

Hail.  It’s been known to range from the size of peas to cantelopes and we all know it doesn’t take much to do damage.  A storm is deemed severe when it contains hail the size of one inch, or quarter-sized. 

Strong winds up to 58 mph is another criteria.  Winds that strong can knock down fences and uproot some trees.

Tornadoes are some of the most destructive forces of nature.  One of these in a storm definitely classifies it as severe.

So the next time a storm is overhead and you’re wondering, “It’s raining cats and dogs and I’ve got peas falling on my car, why aren’t “they” saying this is severe?!”…….you’ll know why.  

*Courtesy pics from our Ulocal page!*      -Danielle Dozier

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