National Weather Service to send emergency alerts of destructive severe thunderstorms

New “Destructive” Severe Thunderstorm Warning category to trigger Wireless Emergency Alerts on mobile phones

INDIANAPOLIS — The National Weather Service is working to warn people about destructive severe thunderstorms.

Starting August 2, the NWS will send Wireless Emergency Alerts about severe thunderstorms with a damage threat tag. The tag will help better convey the severity and potential impacts of thunderstorm winds and hail.

The NWS said the three categories and their messaging are designed to promote immediate action, based on the threats. The categories are as follows:

  • DESTRUCTIVE: 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 on smartphones within the warned area.
  • CONSIDERABLE at least 1.75 inch diameter (golf ball-sized) hail and/or 70 mph thunderstorm winds. This will not activate a WEA.
  • BASE 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, damage is expected to be at the base level.

On average, only 10 percent of all severe thunderstorms reach the destructive category each year, nationwide. Most of these storms are damaging wind events and some of the larger, more intense thunderstorms storms that can typically produce very large hail in their path.

For more information about how to stay safe in a severe thunderstorm, visit the National Weather Service website.

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