Making sense out of severe weather risk categories

DENVER -- On storm days, I post a lot of maps of storm timelines, possible impacts, and overall categories of that day's severe weather. It's the categories that have people wondering what "it" all means.

Here's an example of the map in question:

This is a general look at the areas that may see thunderstorms and how severe or damage causing those storms may be. In this case, Denver and the southeastern quadrant of Colorado were in a 'marginal' risk area, or a 1 out of 5 on the scale.

Here is how the categories are defined by the Storm Prediction Center:

Especially in Colorado, a neighborhood can get lots of damage from any such category if a single storm gets strong enough. These categories would be applied to how many neighborhoods could get lots of damage.

So, simply put these categories would be applied to how many neighborhoods could get lots of damage. The higher the risk scale, the more areas we anticipate getting damage.

Damage would be from hail, wind, flooding, and/or tornadoes.

These outlooks are issued several times daily and you'll find that I post a lot of them to Facebook and Twitter on those days I'm especially cautious of.