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National Weather Service adds new thunderstorm damage threat category

lightning

The National Weather Service is adding a damage threat category to severe thunderstorm warnings starting today. 

The three levels of the damage threat, in order of highest to lowest, are destructive, considerable and base.

A destructive damage threat includes baseball-sized hail and/or 80 mph winds. A considerable damage threat includes golf ball-sized hail and/or 70 mph winds. A baseline severe thunderstorm warning remains classified as 1 inch (quarter-sized) hail and/or 58 mph winds. Storms with no damage threat tag means it is expected to be at the base level.

These new categories will inform people living in a thunderstorm-impacted area if the storm may cause substantial damage to their property.

James Holmes is the meteorologist for the National Weather Service office in Birmingham. He said the new system will be useful for people living in affected locations.

“If you’re in Jefferson County and you’re living in a part of the northern county and we draw a warning in western part of the country,” Holmes said, “your phone will not go off unless you’re in or near that warned area.”  

The state of Alabama experiences frequent thunderstorms since the Southeast is an active region for them. 

Holmes also said people should not venture out of a building during a thunderstorm.

“You never want to be caught outside in a thunderstorm,” Holmes said. “Those damaging winds can knock down trees, cause power outages. The large hail if it impact you or pets can cause severe injury and even death.”

If a person is located in or nearby a destructive zone, their smart phone will alert them of the dangerous weather conditions.

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