The National Weather Service will be adding a “damage threat” tag to severe thunderstorm warnings, similar to the tornado and flash flood warnings they already have.

This new warning will be part of three categories of damage threat for severe thunderstorm warnings to distinguish between the storm's severity. According to the National Weather Service, the categories, in order of highest to lowest damage threat, are destructive, considerable, and base. These tags and additional messaging are designed to promote immediate action, based on the threats.

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Here's a breakdown of the three categories:

  • The criteria for a destructive damage threat is at least 2.75-inch diameter (baseball-sized) hail and/or 80 mph thunderstorm winds. Warnings with this tag will automatically activate a Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) on smartphones within the warned area.
  • The criteria for a considerable damage threat is at least 1.75-inch diameter (golf ball-sized) hail and/or 70 mph thunderstorm winds. This will not activate a WEA.
  • The criteria for a baseline or “base” severe thunderstorm warning remains unchanged, 1.00 inch (quarter-sized) hail and/or 58 mph thunderstorm winds. This will not activate a WEA. When no damage threat tag is present, the damage is expected to be at the base level.

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