NWS rolling out new emergency alerts for severe thunderstorms

Science

(WUTR) — Severe thunderstorms can strike at any time, anywhere. Whether it be a tornado, strong winds, or large hail, there is always a concern of damage and destruction. The National Weather Service (NWS) is taking steps to add more damage categories to severe thunderstorm warnings to more clearly show the severity and potential impacts from these thunderstorms.

Example image provided by the National Weather Service

These tags and additional messaging are designed to help people better understand what the threats are with severe thunderstorms so they can quickly take action to protect themselves. NWS will use new tags and additional messaging for severe thunderstorm warnings starting on August 2.

The new categories—in order of highest to lowest damage threat—are destructive, considerable, and base.

  • The criteria for a destructive damage threat is at least 2.75-inch diameter (baseball-sized) hail and/or 80 mile per hour thunderstorm winds. Warnings with this tag will automatically activate a Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) on smartphones within the warned area.
  • The criteria for a considerable damage threat is at least 1.75-inch diameter (golf ball-sized) hail and/or 70 mile per hour thunderstorm winds. This will not activate a WEA.
  • The criteria for a baseline or “base” severe thunderstorm warning remains unchanged, 1-inch (quarter-sized) hail and/or 58 mile per hour thunderstorm winds. This will not activate a WEA. When no damage threat tag is present, damage is expected to be at the base level.

For more information, you can visit weather.gov.

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