So what exactly does severe weather mean?

We’re starting to hear more about the threat of severe weather, including the storm that blew in last night and the bigger one that is probably coming this evening. (We’ll post something more specific when the National Weather Service posts its mid-afternoon forecast.) But what does it mean when we hear “severe weather”?

This handy graphic from the National Weather Service helps sum up what you hear about the possibility of severe weather:

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As you might expect, not everyone thinks this is the ideal way to notify the public. Joe Lauria, a meteorologist with Fox-4 in Kansas City, writes in a blog post/critique that the severe warning is overused, and that it might not mean what you think it means.

“My feeling is that the vast majority of ‘regular’ people (our audience in Kansas City) has become numb to the numbers of severe thunderstorm warnings issued throughout the course of a spring and summer especially,” Lauria writes.  His worry, he writes, is that while “I want you to be warned, and have confidence, that what we say may happen will happen when it comes to severe thunderstorms especially,” the public could become inured to the point of dismissing severe weather warnings as “blah … blah … blah.”

This could become a bigger deal in the coming months. Some forecasters say that, with the El Niño weather pattern quite possibly making a comeback, we’re in for a wetter-and-colder spring than usual. And spring is usually a severe-weather season for Central Texas.