Severe weather warnings are changing their tune

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MARSHALL COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) – Severe weather season in Alabama is right around the corner, and starting next month, weather warnings in our area will sound a bit different.

The National Weather Service is changing the way it issues warnings during severe weather by using impact based warnings. These warnings are more specific and help paint a better picture of what to expect.

Marshall County Emergency Management Director Anita McBurnett says, “There was a lot of talk about the sociological impacts of the warnings, and what type of action people take, or don’t take based upon the warnings they’re receiving,”

She adds,”We don’t want to instill fear, but appropriate action based upon knowing what the outcome of a 70 mile per hour wind is going to be and what they need to do to be safe.”

The warnings will reflect the seriousness of the situation, no matter how big or small. “People take to heart when they understand that quarter inch hail is going to cause damage to my car, it’s going to bust windshields, then they respond to that type of information,” adds McBurnett

There are multiple levels of warnings, which range from base level, which will be the most common, and indicate a developing tornado on radar. The second level will be called a particularly dangerous situation, or “PDS,” which will be used when a tornado had been confirmed with its touch down. The next level which indicates a tornado emergency which will only be used in the most dangerous situations, with catastrophic results expected. However, all levels must be taken seriously.

“In our every day lives, people think that if there is a radar indicated tornado, it did not touch down it did not cause any damage, than the threat was not real. And that’s what we’ve got to get beyond,” says McBurnett.

Marshall County Emergency Management hopes the new warnings will cause people to take action and have a plan just in case .”Well I┬ádon’t want to take that chance, and I’m hoping the people of Marshall County won’t take that chance either,” adds McBurnett.

The new warnings will go into effect statewide on April 1.