Just What is a Severe Storm?

In the warmer months, we meteorologists are always talking about the threat of severe thunderstorms. But just what constitutes a “severe” thunderstorm? Actually there are very specific criteria for this. A “severe” thunderstorm is one that produces wind gust of at least 58 mph and/or has hail that is at least 1 inch in diameter. That’s it.

Check out this hail from a storm earlier this week near Dallas.


You might be surprised to know that rain – no matter how much, is not included in this definition. And lightning is also not included. So you could have a thunderstorm that produces 6 inches of rain and thousands of lightning strikes, but unless this is accompanied by strong winds and/or big hail, it would not be categorized as severe.

Categories: Weather, Weather Blog