By Chris Spears

DENVER (CBS4) – Starting Monday, Aug. 2, things will look a bit different the next time you get a notice about a severe thunderstorm warning for your area. Warnings will be now be placed into one of three categories.

The criteria for a storm to be classified as severe is not changing. That is any storm that creates wind gusts to 58 mph or greater, produces hail 1-inch in diameter or larger, or a funnel cloud or tornado. If a storm meets any of these three criteria it will now be considered as the “base” severe thunderstorm warning.

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Not all storms are created equal. Under the current warning system, a storm that produces 58 mph wind and 1-inch hail or 90 mph wind and 4-inch hail gets the same warning. So to better communicate possible danger and damage potential going forward, the National Weather Service has created two new levels, or tags, in addition to the “base” severe thunderstorm warning.

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CONSIDERABLE SEVERE T-STORM WARNING – if a severe thunderstorm will have potential to produce wind speeds reaching at least 70 mph and/or hail that reaches 1.75 inches in diameter, which is the size of golf ball or larger, the warning will get a “considerable” damage tag.

DESTRUCTIVE SEVERE T-STORM WARNING – if a severe thunderstorm will have the potential to produce wind gusts of 80 mph or higher, and/or hail that reaches 2.75 inches in diameter, which is the size of a baseball or larger, the warning will have a “destructive” damage tag and it will automatically trigger a WEA (wireless emergency alert message) to your phone.

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(credit: NWS Cheyenne)

According to the National Weather Service only 10 percent of all severe thunderstorms nationwide reach the destructive category each year. Thirteen of the 22 costliest weather disasters in the United States during the year 2020 were destructive severe thunderstorms.

(CBS)

Chris Spears