Severe weather

‘Destructive Damage' to Be Added to National Weather Service Cell Phone Alerts

Cell phone users will get new alerts when storms deemed to be particularly hazardous are possible, starting Aug. 2, the National Weather Service said Monday.

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New cell phone alerts warning of potentially "destructive" thunderstorms will begin appearing when storms meeting certain criteria are approaching, federal officials said Monday.

The alerts will become available to local National Weather Service stations starting Aug. 2, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA), which oversees the NWS.

"The National Weather Service will better convey the severity and potential impacts from thunderstorm winds and hail by adding a “damage threat” tag to Severe Thunderstorm Warnings, similar to our Tornado and Flash Flood Warnings," NOAA said in a release on its website.

The two new categories are "destructive damage" and "considerable damage" threats. The Mount Holly station of the National Weather Service, which covers most of the Philadelphia region, tweeted out the criteria for when a push alert to cell phones would be issued.

About 10% of all thunderstorms -- one in 10 -- nationwide produce hail and high winds that reach the "destructive damage" category, NOAA said.

"Most of these storms are damaging wind events such as derechoes and some of the larger, more intense thunderstorms, called “supercell” storms that can typically produce very large hail in their path," NOAA officials said. "The new destructive thunderstorm category conveys to the public urgent action is needed, a life-threatening event is occurring and may cause substantial damage to property. Storms categorized as destructive will trigger a WEA to your cell phone."

This is an example of what the new cell phone alert will look like when a warning for a "destructive damage" thunderstorm is issued by the National Weather Service. (NOAA)
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