We’ve all been on the receiving end of those loud National Weather Service alerts on our phones. They give you a heads up about tornados and flash floods, and now, they’re going to distinguish between different types of severe thunderstorms too.
"Just like tornado warnings for the past several years now have hit everybody’s cell phones for these amazingly dangerous situations where you really need to reach as many people as you can, we’re now extending that into dire severe thunderstorm warnings," Meteorologist Chris Strong told FOX 5 Tuesday.
The NWS announced they’re introducing new alerts signifying "destructive" and "considerable" damage threats as of this week.
The criteria for a destructive damage threat is at least baseball-sized hail and/or 80 mph thunderstorm winds. Warnings with that tag will automatically activate a Wireless Emergency Alert on smartphones within the warned area.
Considerable damage threats apply to severe thunderstorms with golf ball-sized hail and/or 70 mph winds. Those threats will not activate a WEA.
Then there’s the base severe thunderstorm warning, which remains unchanged and applies to quarter-sized hail and/or 58 mph winds.
Base thunderstorm warnings also will not activate a WEA.
"When you have these beasts of storms that we can get around this area from time to time," Strong said, "if people are ready for these kinds of storms, if people have advance notice that they’re coming, then everybody’s going to be a lot better off. Everybody is going to be a lot safer."
Don’t expect to get the alerts all that often. The NWS said only 10 percent of all severe thunderstorms throughout the country reach the destructive category each year.