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New ‘Destructive’ tag on Severe Thunderstorm Warnings will trigger wireless alerts

Published: Aug. 2, 2021 at 12:57 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - A Severe Thunderstorm Watch is issued when conditions are favorable for the development of severe weather. A Severe Thunderstorm Warning is issued once storms produce 58+ mph wind gusts and/or 1″ (quarter-sized) hail.

Baseline criteria for a severe thunderstorm warning
Baseline criteria for a severe thunderstorm warning(WOWT)

As we’ve experienced here in the Heartland, not all severe thunderstorms behave equally. Just this past July, Eppley Airfield clocked a wind gust of 96 mph from a severe thunderstorm! Understandably, a Severe Thunderstorm Warning with gusts this high should be taken just as seriously as a Tornado Warning.

Beginning August 2nd, the National Weather Service will add new damage threat categories to Severe Thunderstorm Warnings to better communicate impacts. These tags will depend on hail size and/or wind speed.

New threat tags for severe thunderstorm warnings
New threat tags for severe thunderstorm warnings(WOWT)

A Severe Thunderstorm Warning will be tagged “Considerable” once a storm produces 1.75 inch (golf ball-sized) hail and/or 70 mph winds.

A Severe Thunderstorm Warning will be tagged “Destructive” once a storm produces 2.75 inch (baseball-sized) hail and/or 80 mph winds.

(Omaha’s thunderstorm the night of July 9th would be considered “Destructive”.)

Once a severe thunderstorm is deemed “Destructive”, a Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) will be activated. This will send out an emergency alert to your smart phone, similar to what occurs when a Tornado Warning is issued for your area.

These new tags and alerts should better communicate storm hazards to the public and hopefully save many lives.

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