Breaking News
More () »

Tornadoes in February | Weather Rewind

In this week's Weather Rewind, we look back at severe weather that produced nine tornadoes in Oklahoma. It's a great opportunity to talk the meaning of SPC Outlooks.

NORMAN, Okla. — It’s time for another Weather Rewind, where we look back at this past week’s weather, but with a twist.

This week, we’re looking back at a tornado outbreak out west Sunday night.

Although February tornadoes aren’t too common, even out there, severe weather season is right around the corner.


Folks in Oklahoma and nearby Kansas were left assessing the damage Monday after a series of rare February tornadoes hit the Southern Plains.

In Norman, Oklahoma, the devastation was widespread.

At least a dozen people were injured on Sunday, and hundreds of structures were damaged.

Cars were flipped over, homes had their roofs torn off and debris lined the streets.

The National Weather Service confirmed a high-end, EF2 tornado was on the ground for 26 minutes and traveled 26 miles.

EF2 tornadoes can have winds between 111 to 135 miles per hour.

Nine tornadoes were reported in total.

It’s only a matter of time before severe weather season picks up across the country and here in central Pennsylvania, too!


With that in mind, it’s a great time to give a refresher on the severe weather outlooks and the categories used to help explain the severe risk.

You’ll see outlook areas that look like the one pictured below.

Credit: FOX43 Weather
Here's an example of a severe weather outlook from the Storm Prediction Center. This was issued Thursday morning on March 2nd for the day ahead.

This was the Storm Prediction Center’s (SPC) outlook for the Southern Plains and Southern Mississippi River Valley issued Thursday morning for the rest of the day.

The severe categories are Marginal, Slight, Enhanced, Moderate and High—with a side note that high is purple and not pictured in this outlook.

If we see any of these over our area, what does this tell us about the severe risk?

Well, the outlooks are ranked from one to five, where one is the lowest risk and five is the highest risk.

They tell us about the coverage, longevity and intensity of any storms that day.

A Marginal Risk means isolated severe storms are possible and usually limited in duration, coverage or intensity.

A Slight Risk means scattered severe storms are possible. These are also short-lived and not widespread, but isolated intense storms are possible.

An Enhanced Risk means numerous severe storms are possible. Storms can be more persistent and widespread, with a few more intense storms possible.

Credit: FOX43 Weather
Here are the thunderstorm categories and their explanation from the SPC.

A Moderate Risk means widespread severe storms are likely. Long-lived, widespread and intense storms are possible.

And the final category—a High Risk—means widespread severe storms are likely. They will be long-lived, widespread and particularly intense.

Here in central Pennsylvania, we see Marginal and Slight Risks more than the others.

However, we can see up to a few Enhanced Risk areas each season.

Although rare, we can see a Moderate outlook—but it’s only once a season if it happens that year.

Keep in mind, even in a low-end Marginal Risk, severe storms can still cause wind or hail damage, or produce a tornado.

Always be alert on outlooked days!

Stay tuned every Friday for all the “whys” behind the weather wonders that capture our attention each week!

Download the FOX43 app here.

Before You Leave, Check This Out