New category of severe thunderstorm warnings designed to encourage immediate action based on threats

October 02 2021 06:00 pm

Starting TODAY, the National Weather Service radar operators will better communicate the severity and potential impacts from thunderstorm winds and hail by adding a “damage threat” tag to Severe Thunderstorm Warnings. There will now be three categories of warnings: “base,” “considerable” and “destructive” according to the NWS Birmingham Warning Coordination Meteorologist, John D. De Block.

A “base” warning is a typical severe thunderstorm warning for a thunderstorm containing quarter-size hail (1 inch in diameter) and/or 58 mph winds.

A “considerable” warning is when golf-ball-size hail (1.75 inches) and/or 70 mph winds are expected.

The top/highest/worst category is “destructive.” This describes a destructive severe thunderstorm that could have baseball-size hail (2.75 inches) and/or 80 mph winds. This category of a Severe Thunderstorm Warning WILL trigger the Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) alarm on participating carrier smartphones if you are in the warned area.

We are no stranger to severe weather across central Alabama, so this is something we could possibly see later this fall and again next spring.

More details can be found from the NWS here.

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