KOMU 8 weather team explains severe weather coverage

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COLUMBIA - As showers and thunderstorms push into mid-Missouri for Friday and Saturday, the threat of severe weather is never out of the question. 

By this time of year, flowers are in bloom, trees regain their luscious green leaves and bumblebees buzz under the warm sun. Snow no longer blankets the grass, and the days become longer.

But with the new season comes a complication: severe weather. Spring weather can be wild and unpredictable. Weather can change from sunny skies to supercell thunderstorms that can bring flooding, hail, high winds and tornadoes rapidly.

So how can you prepare yourself during such temperamental weather conditions?

"The best thing to do during severe weather is stay well-informed," said KOMU 8 Meteorologist Tori Stepanek. 

The first thing to understand is the different between a watch and a warning.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration defines these two terms:


  • A watch means conditions are right for strong thunderstorms to develop.
  • A warning means that a severe thunderstorm is occurring or is imminent based on Doppler radar information. 


The distinction between a watch and warning is important to understand. KOMU 8 has a different way of covering watches vs. warnings.

In a watch, a crawl (the scrolling bar of information at the bottom of the screen) and a county graphic are displayed in our programming. Because the threat is still potentially developing, the station doesn't break into programming at this point.

If a warning is issued by NOAA for any one of the 32 counties in our viewing area, a meteorologist will break into programming to provide details about the imminent threat. Details would include wind speeds, hail size and possible tornado paths.

During severe weather situations there are a minimum of two meteorologists present. One will stand at the weather wall (green screen) to present the information to the public, while other meteorologists answer phone calls, listen to storm reports and prepare graphics in the weather center.

One of the tools KOMU 8 provides its viewers is platform flexibility.

The KOMU 8 weather team actively updates Twitter, Facebook, the website and the KOMU 8 weather app to keep you well informed on any medium.

"It is important to keep people informed during severe weather," KOMU 8 Meteorologist Eric Aldrich said. "Ultimately, we want to provide the tools necessary to keep people and their families safe."