What is K-Index?

K-Index meaning A measure of the thunderstorm potential based on vertical temperature lapse rate, moisture content of the lower atmosphere, and the vertical extent of the moist layer. The temperature difference between 850 mb and 500 mb is used to parameterize the vertical temperature lapse rate. The 850 dew point provides information on the moisture content of the lower atmosphere. The vertical extent of the moist layer is represented by the difference of the 700 mb temperature and 700 mb dew point. This is called the 700 mb temperature-dew point depression. The index is derived arithmetically and does not require a plotted sounding.

K-index = (850 mb temperature – 500 mb temperature) + 850 mb dew point – 700 mb dew point depression


reference: National Weather Service Glossary