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  • Writer's pictureTodd Yakoubian

Not All Severe Thunderstorm Warnings Are Equal

Some can produce winds as powerful as a tornado, some barely reach the severe threshold of 58mph, some produce huge softball size hail, some barely produce 1'' hail, and some produce all of the above. All of those hazards fall under the umbrella of a "severe thunderstorm warning" but the threats can be very different in type and magnitude.

For example, July 21, 2018

text warning for the above storm on July 21, 2018

July 19th, 2020 severe thunderstorm warning

July 19th, 2020 severe thunderstorm warning text

The hazard from each warning is the same, "60mph wind gusts and nickel size hail".

The severe thunderstorm warning from July 21, 2018 produced widespread wind damage with winds up to 90mph. Tens of thousands lost electricity too.

The severe thunderstorm warning from July 19th, 2020 did not produce any wind damage and no one lost electricity.

So how in the world are you able to differentiate the severity of these storms?

First of all, you always need to take severe thunderstorm warnings seriously. IMO, way too many warnings are issued for storms which probably don't need it, but that's a blog post for another day.

An attempt is currently underway to add clarification to the severe thunderstorm warnings and their specific threats. However, it will still require you to read the warning text and not everyone will do that.

When you go to the doctor and receive medicine, do you read everything about the medicine you are taking? It comes with paperwork with a list of side effects, what it does, how to take it, what to take it with, when to take it, etc. I'm willing to bet some of you read it and some don't.

The same can be said for severe thunderstorm warnings. Do you read the full text? That's where the specifics will be stated.

Read the proposed changes below. You can click on the pdf file

Download PDF • 51KB

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