Infographic: Not all thunderstorms are the same

When the skies to the west darken and the temperature drops, most Midwesterners know a storm is coming. But not all thunderstorms are the same.

We spoke to experts at the National Weather Service in Valley, Neb., for some insight, and information about severe weather. Beyond tornadoes, severe thunderstorms can also be destructive this time of year. Below is a graphic outlining the anatomy of a thunderstorm system.


What’s in a storm

What exactly is a “severe thunderstorm”? The weather service applies specific criteria to storms of this level.

A thunderstorm is severe when it produces:

  • Quarter-size hail one-inch or larger in diameter
  • Winds of at least 58 miles-per-hour
  • A tornado
Know the difference

If you live in the Midwest, you’ve heard about the difference between a watch and a warning since childhood. But it’s always a good idea to refresh your knowledge about severe weather.

  • Watch: Be prepared because severe weather is possible. Check for forecast updates, monitor sky conditions and know where to take shelter, if needed.
  • Warning: Take action because severe weather is imminent. Take shelter immediately, seek further information and check for forecast updates from local media and the weather service.

About Laura King-Homan

Laura King-Homan is a contributor to the Storm & Outage Center and a communications specialist at OPPD. She has nearly 20 years of print journalism and design experience, which lets her tell the stories of OPPD and its employees both graphically and through her writing.