KSN Storm Track 3 Digital Extra: New severe thunderstorm warning categories explained, “destructive” sent to cell phones

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WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – We know that when a Severe T-Storm Warning is issued, we need to take action and seek shelter away from the approaching storm. In order for a storm to become severe, one or more elements have to be present including quarter size hail, or larger; 60 MPH winds or higher; and/or a tornado.

Not all severe thunderstorms are created equally. This is why the National Weather Service is breaking down a Severe T-Storm Warning into 3 categories based upon the threat of damage going forward. The theory is to make the warnings easier to understand. As your Chief Meteorologist, my concern is that this could lead to confusion and complacency during a severe situation. My team and I do not want that. We will continue to be transparent with each warning as we have always done in the past.

Here is breakdown of the different National Weather Service Severe Thunderstorm Warning categories:

BASE: Quarter size hail and/or 60 MPH winds

CONSIDERABLE: Golf ball size hail and/or 70 MPH winds

DESTRUCTIVE: Baseball size hail and/or 80 MPH winds

Alerts for storms that are labeled as “destructive” will be sent to cell phones within the vicinity of the Severe Thunderstorm Warning, known as a Wireless Emergency Alert, or WEA starting Monday, August 2.

Only about 10% of storms reach “destructive” status yearly across the country. That said, severe thunderstorms that are listed in the “base” and “considerable” should not be ignored because they can and indeed do cause damage to life and property. Living here on the Central High Plains we often see a storm start at the bottom of the barrel and quickly ramp up in regards to intensity with hail and/or winds. Potentially becoming tornadic in minutes.

Never disregard any severe thunderstorm and take necessary precautions to stay safe before, during, and after a storm. Being weather-aware days in advance of a severe set-up is critical to the safety of you and your family.

Know that the KSN Storm Track 3 weather team will always be here for you with around the clock updates on-air and online at ksn.com.

–Chief Meteorologist Lisa Teachman

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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