Why you’ll start seeing alerts for ‘Destructive’ thunderstorm warnings on your phone


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – “Destructive” severe thunderstorm warnings will now alert on your cell phone, similar to how tornado warnings have done since 2012. The National Weather Service is breaking severe thunderstorm warnings down into three categories.

They’ve always had “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 cell phone. Emergency managers aren’t putting the other two categories of severe thunderstorm warnings on cell phones because they fear people would get alert fatigue with all three types.

Examples of Destructive severe thunderstorms are very rare in Middle Tennessee, and on average only happen every three years. Most storms of that intensity are usually tornado-warned already.

The most recent example – the Derecho on May 3, 2020, which swept across Tennessee and caused widespread damage. In the future, severe thunderstorm warnings for a system like the Derecho will come over your cell phone as a Destructive severe thunderstorm warning.

In addition, they 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.

An example of a flooding situation that would have been called Considerable or Catastrophic was the flooding from March 2021 that affected much of Middle Tennessee, killing four people and flooding hundreds of homes and businesses.

NWS will also stop having two types of flood watches, flash flood watch and flood watch, and only have one called flood watch.

The hope is that these changes will improve the process of helping to keep you safe.

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