When you're watching severe weather on television, there is likely a good chance that you have seen a TORCON index or two. They're a great way to get the lay of the land and give you an idea of what to expect.
The TORCON index was actually designed to help meteorologists boil down the risk of tornadoes in a given area to a simple number. It is based on a scale of 1 to 10, with the highest number signifying the most chance of tornadoes occurring within a given region.
TORCON was devised by a retired Weather Channel weatherman named Dr. Greg Forbes to help simplify how meteorologists convey the threat of severe weather to the public.
The concept is based on the use of three primary components that go into predicting severe weather: instability, wind shear and lift.
Instability: For thunderstorms to form, the air needs to be able to rise and become unstable. This is done through changes in air pressure and temperature that create a state of excitement.
Most meteorologists will tell you that the best way to predict severe weather is through forecasts and warnings from official agencies such as the National Weather Service (NWS). But sometimes the language and jargon can be too confusing for the average Joe or Jane to understand, even when it comes to severe storms.
The TORCON is a great way to show the general public what to expect, and in turn it has helped reduce the amount of anxiety caused by tornadoes. It's a shame that the Weather Channel has decided to stop using it.