What is TORCON? Explaining The Weather Channel's system to predict tornadoes in your area

by 24USATVApril 3, 2024, 2:40 a.m. 25
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The skies are dark, the wind is howling and social media is filled with references to TORCON, forecasting if a tornado might form in your area.

So what does TORCON mean? And how is it used? Here's an explanation.

What is TORCON? How The Weather Channel's tornado prediction scale started

TORCON, short for the Tornado Condition Index, was developed by Dr. Greg Forbes, a meteorologist and severe weather expert at The Weather Channel who retired in 2018, as an index that helped estimate the risk of tornadoes in a particular area. It is not an official weather term that the National Weather Service or National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration use, according to Newsweek.

How is TORCON used to predict a tornado?

TORCON uses a 0-10 scale to indicate how likely a tornado is within 50 miles of a given location, according to Weather Station Advisor. A TORCON level of 2 would mean a 20% risk of a tornado, TORCON 5 would be 50%, and so on.

In this video from The Weather Channel, Forbes explains the TORCON system and how it's used.

The National Weather Service system uses tornado watch and tornado warning. What's the difference?

There are six categories used by the National Weather Service to classify the rotational speed of tornadoes (EF0-EF5) but just two levels to warn of tornado activity.

A tornado watch means weather conditions could spawn tornadoes within the watch area. People should stay aware of weather conditions and be prepared to act if watchers spot a tornado.

A tornado warning means a tornado has been sighted by a local NWS forecast office or indicated by weather radar and there is imminent danger to life and property.

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