Remembering to set your cell phone to accept government alert notifications of approaching hazardous weather conditions could save lives. As WPMT-TV in York, Pennsylvania reports, the National Weather Service has expanded its Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) storm warnings to include a Destructive category. If a Destructive alert is issued, recipients should brace for dangerous conditions that could include 80 mph winds and baseball sized hail.
Phones within range of cell towers in the danger area will issue wireless emergency alerts similar to tornado warnings giving people time to seek safety. “That would actually send on your cell phone based on the tower that your phone is picking up on within the warning polygon,” Warning Coordination Meteorologist at NWS State College, Jonathan Guseman, explained to a WPMT-TV reporter. “So the warnings are still going to be the same as they have but what’s going to change is there’s these new, what’s called damage threat tags,” he added.
While the new Destructive category is the most severe, Baseline and Considerable damage threats are not as extreme though each describe hazardous conditions. A Baseline threat warns of hailstones up to the size of a quarter with accompanying winds of over 58 mph. The mid-range Considerable category could see hail the size of golf balls with winds over 70 mph.
Guseman said that although the region is not known for violent weather, all National Weather Service alerts should be taken seriously. The revised alert categories will go into effect beginning on August 2.