Severe weather season is here and the Capital Weather Gang has introduced a new “Storm Threat Level” index aimed at increasing awareness of the potential for severe weather in the D.C. area.

The Storm Threat Level index will appear in our morning forecast post (typically publishes around 5 a.m.) on days when there’s a chance of thunderstorms. The intended purpose of the index is to promote storm awareness and preparedness by providing a quick snapshot of the expected level of thunderstorm severity.

The three levels are:

When issued, the Storm Threat Level will appear below the “Today” section of the forecast and only applies to the current day.

How should you use the Storm Threat Level index?

We hope you’ll use the index as an at-a-glance indication of how “weather-aware” you should be that day. Our forecast narrative for the day (appearing above the Storm Threat Level graphic) will contain more detailed information about thunderstorm potential and possible impacts.

We of course always encourage you to check back with us for weather updates throughout the day, but this will be especially true on level 2 days and even more so on level 3 days, when the potential for a major outbreak of severe weather is greatest.

Finally, we also hope you’ll share the Storm Threat Level with your friends and family (we’ll communicate level 3 and sometimes level 2 days on our Twitter and Facebook feeds in the morning or night before).

The more everyone is aware of the threat of severe weather, the better we can collectively prepare and stay safe.