Why you may start seeing alerts for ‘destructive’ thunderstorm warnings on your phone


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – “Destructive” severe thunderstorm warnings will now alert on your cellphone, similar to how tornado warnings have done since 2012, thanks to the National Weather Service decision to break severe thunderstorm warnings down into three categories.

They’ve always had a “base” with 58-70 mph winds and 1″ to 1.5″ hail. But now they’re adding “considerable” severe thunderstorm warnings for 70-80 mph winds and golf ball-sized hail and “destructive” severe thunderstorm warnings for 80 mph winds or higher and baseball-sized hail.

Destructive storms will go to your cellphone. Emergency managers aren’t alerting cellphones for the other two categories of severe thunderstorm warnings because they fear people will get alert fatigue.

A recent example of a “destructive” storm that would have warranted the alert was the Derecho on May 3, 2020, which swept across Tennessee and caused widespread damage.

In addition, the NWS will also be treating flash flood warnings in a similar way, adding “considerable” and “catastrophic” categories. Those will also be alerted on your cell phone.

NWS will lose the two types of flood watches – flash flood watch and flood watch – and use only “flood watch.”

The NWS hopes that the new warning system will more effectively warn people before dangerous weather events and hopefully save lives.

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