National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Graphical Hazardous Weather Outlook


The Hazardous Weather Outlook is issued for the 26 counties that encompass the National Weather Service Wichita's County Warning Area. It is intended to give users in Central and Southeast Kansas an idea of possible hazardous weather during the next 7 days. The product is designed primarily as a planning tool for decision makers potentially impacted by hazardous weather. The graphics enable forecasters to convey hazardous weather information in an easy to interpret, consistent, and highly accessible format. The target audience includes: state/local emergency managers, storm spotters, government agencies, media, schools, business managers, and the public.

The Hazardous Weather Outlook is issued for the following:

  • Convective Weather: When thunderstorms, large hail, damaging winds, or tornadoes are expected. May also be issued for strong storms that may approach severe limits.
  • Winter Weather: For snow, sleet, freezing rain, or a mixture of these elements, blizzard, or ice storm.
  • Non Precipitation: For strong winds, excessive heat or cold, dense fog or blowing dust.
  • Flooding: When flooding, flash flooding or a long duration river flooding are possible.

Product Issuance Times:
This product is issued on a daily basis year-round. The entire seven day Hazardous Weather Outlook is issued at 530 AM CST/CDT. This product may also be updated on an as-needed basis between 11 am and Noon and/or in the afternoon.

There are four graphic images including: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, and Days 4 through 7. Each image contains a color shading(s) across the County Warning Area corresponding to a Hazard Level Scale. The Hazard Level Scale includes the following values (color shading): zero - dark green for Nil threat, 1 - light green for Minimal Threat, 2 - blue for Small threat, 3 - Yellow for Medium Threat, 4 - orange for Significant Threat, and 5 - Red for Very Significant Threat. If the user clicks on any of the Hazard Level buttons within the legend to the right of the main image window, it will take them to a page that contains a large table which shows the definitions of each hazard level and the associated triggers.

Text Discussion:
The Text Discussion below the graphic images will contain a brief description of the nature of any hazardous weather threat, and a brief, non technical discussion (synopsis) of the basic weather pattern causing it. Where possible, the Forecaster tries to define the area where the threat is expected to occur by referencing the location to the well-known cities in or near our County Warning Area. The Forecaster also attempts to give the time of day in which the threat is expected to occur. This would be especially true for the Days 1 to 3. The Day 4-7 Outlook will normally have less detailed information, since the event will be further out in the forecast period where uncertainties often exist. If no hazardous weather is expected, the following phrase will be used: "No Hazardous Weather is Expected at this Time."

Spotter Activation Statement:
This statement, located at the bottom of the text discussion, estimates whether or not spotter activation will be necessary, mainly for the Day 1 outlook. It alerts County Emergency Managers to be ready to mobilize spotters if necessary and gives him/her a subjective idea of the threat involved. This portion can be tailored for non-convective hazardous weather, for example, "Spotters are requested to report snowfall amounts of 1 inch or greater". The likelihood of spotter activation may also differ across the County Warning Area according to the perceived risk.