With a busy severe weather season underway, an interesting website to get to know is that of the branch of the National Weather Service that forecasts storm development nationwide.
The branch is called the Storm Prediction Center, and here's its site: http://www.spc.noaa.gov/
The center is a great place to sort out some of the hype, but also to get some insight into where life-threatening weather could occur over a large area.
By clicking through the site (explanation below), you'll learn that on Saturday, the bull's-eye for storms is from Omaha to Kansas City, and east and west of that line.
To become familiar with this site:
1. Click on the home page. http://www.spc.noaa.gov/
2. Click on the blue tab Conv.Outlook.
3. You'll see Current Day Outlooks for Day 1,2,3, and 4-8.
4. If you're reading my blog on Friday, June 7, click on the Day 2 Outlook (Friday is Day 1, Saturday is Day 2, Sunday is Day 3, etc.)
5. Assuming there hasn't been significant change from Thursday evening, you'll see a yellow blob where Omaha, Lincoln and Kansas City are located.
6. Place your cursor over the black tab labeled Probabilistic (above the map), and the yellow blob will get a red core. This is the area at greatest risk of severe weather.
7. The corresponding percentages tell you your odds of being near bad weather.
Based on the Storm Prediction Center outlook posted Thursday evening — http://www.spc.noaa.gov/products/outlook/day3otlk.html:
• Anywhere in red — Lincoln, Kansas City, Nebraska City, etc., had about a 30 percent chance of being within 25 miles of a storm.
• Anywhere in yellow, including Norfolk, had a 15 percent chance of being within 25 miles of a storm.
• Omaha was on the edge of the higher-risk categories.
These odds may not sound high, and indeed they leave plenty of fudge room.
But keep in mind that forecasts are difficult to do, so the fact that the Storm Prediction Center was targeting such a large area for bad weather a couple of days out means that forecasters were fairly confident of systems colliding over our area.
Also, as Saturday approaches, the outlook will grow more confident and we may enter the higher moderate-risk category.
Finally, one last tip: check the prediction center's site on Saturday because that day's outlook will be more explicit. You'll see the odds of being near tornadoes vs. hail vs. strong winds.
If this all sounds too confusing, give me a call and I'll try to help you through it: Nancy Gaarder, 402-444-1102.