National Weather Service adds ‘destructive’ as thunderstorm damage category

FILE PHOTO A man waits by his van after getting stuck along Medway-New Carlisle Pike when he tried to drive around a large tree branch that blocked the roadway during a severe thunderstorm that blew through the area with high winds and rain.
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FILE PHOTO A man waits by his van after getting stuck along Medway-New Carlisle Pike when he tried to drive around a large tree branch that blocked the roadway during a severe thunderstorm that blew through the area with high winds and rain.

Credit: Staff photo by Bill Lackey

Credit: Staff photo by Bill Lackey

New category includes Wireless Emergency Alert

Starting Monday, the National Weather Service will include destructive as a damage threat category for severe thunderstorm warnings.

The new category will activate Wireless Emergency Alerts, also known as cell phone alerts.

“There are BIG changes coming to severe thunderstorm warnings starting Monday, August 2nd,” the NWS in Wilmington tweeted. “We can now include “destructive” wording, which would activate Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs), for baseball-sized hail or 80+ MPH winds.”

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Storms falling under the destructive label include winds of at least 80 miles per hour and 2.75-inch hail. Thunderstorms must meet a qualifying wind or hail value, or both, to be categorized as destructive.

Other damage threat categories include base and considerable.

Base damage threat is for storms with winds of up to 58-60 mph and 1-inch hail. Considerable damage threat includes winds up to 70 mph and 1.75 inch-hail.

Base and considerable threats do not include text alerts.

WEA are government-authorized alerts sent through cell phone carriers to inform people of local and state emergencies, such severe weather, AMBER Alerts, presidential alerts, blue alerts and local emergencies that require immediate action or evacuation. The NWS, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency and Federal Communications Commission are among the agencies who use Wireless Emergency Alerts.

For more information on WEAs, visit the NWS’s website.