National Weather Service to send new warnings to cell phones beginning August 2nd

A major change is coming to the way the National Weather Service alerts the public about severe thunderstorms.

Beginning August 2nd, the agency will be adding a “destructive tag” to its severe thunderstorm warnings. They will be similar to what they send for tornado and flash flood alerts and sent to your mobile device.

The new destructive thunderstorm category conveys to the public urgent action is needed, a life-threatening event is occurring and may cause substantial damage to property.

The National Weather Service has developed three categories for the threat for Severe Thunderstorm Warnings. The categories, in order of highest to lowest damage threat, are destructive, considerable, and base. These tags and additional messages are designed to promote immediate action, based on the threats.

  • The criteria for a destructive damage threat is at least 2.75-inch diameter (baseball-sized) hail and/or 80 mph 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 mph thunderstorm winds. This will not activate a WEA.
  • The criteria for a baseline or “base” severe thunderstorm warning remains unchanged, 1.00 inch (quarter-sized) hail and/or 58 mph thunderstorm winds. This will not activate a WEA. When no damage threat tag is present, the damage is expected to be at the base level.

For more information, visit weather.gov/news.

 

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