Subtle But Highly Noticeable Change in Severe Weather Forecasting

countyIt might not sound like a huge deal, but it represents a major change in the simple art of matching colors with individual threats.  This week, the Storm Prediction Center changed the way it draws convective outlooks.  For more on what these outlooks mean, read our article on the topic we posted earlier this year as part of our series “Severe Weather 101.”  Admittedly when I looked at the new outlook design I was certainly caught off guard.  So I wanted to pass along my feelings on the new graphics.

First of all, there are more options, utilizing the ability to turn off features such as counties, population centers and city labels will help better pinpoint the areas under a certain risk.  The Storm Prediction Center also did the correct thing in making the graphics much larger, which not only makes them easier to see on ever growing computer and tablet monitors, but also increases the detail available.

There is, however, one major flaw in this storm chaser’s opinion… the colors.  Moderate and high risk areas are still their normal colors of red and magenta, respectively.  But for some reason, general thunderstorms areas were changed from brown to green and the slight risk areas were changed from green to yellow.  While I believe this is simply an aesthetic complaint on my part it’s a little confusing.  Simply because the color used for slight risk is now used for general thunderstorms. 

This of course caused some confusion for me this morning but quickly turned to the new legend to figure out what was going on.  I won’t be too critical of the seemingly unnecessary change because it’s one of those things we might just have to get used to with time.

In the mean time I hope you get a chance to look at this change because it is significant but I believe in the long run it will be for the better.  Now we’ll just have to wait and see if we’ll see additional improvements in other Storm Prediction Center products, there is a lot that could change.

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