Wireless Emergency Alert system will feature severe thunderstorm alerts starting Aug. 2

Greg Williams
Wellington Daily News
The first test of the national wireless emergency system by the Federal Emergency Management Agency is shown on a cellular phone in Detroit, Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018. About 225 million electrtonic devices across the United States received alerts from FEMA Wednesday afternoon. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya) ORG XMIT: MIPS102

The Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) system will start featuring severe thunderstorm warnings, effective Aug. 2. 

WEA is the system that pushes automatic notifications to your smartphone, like Amber Alerts and Tornado Warnings. 

The National Weather Service (NWS) will start to "tag" severe thunderstorms and adding specific language in their warnings to describe potential damage.

Here are possible ways this will appear to the user:

  • A warning may be issued with no tag… these are your run-of-the-mill severe thunderstorms that could produce quarter-sized hail and/or 60 mph-ish winds.
  • A warning may be issued with a “Considerable” damage tag… a storm with this tag may be packing 70 mph or greater winds or golf ball or larger sized hail.
  • A warning could also be issued with a “Destructive” damage tag… these storms could produce 80 mph or greater winds or baseball and larger hail.

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If the NWS selects the "Destructive" tag for their severe thunderstorm warning, that warning will also get broadcast through the WEA system. This would cause a loud noise on cell phones for those in the warning area.

The NWS has shared a sample of what that alert may look like on your phone. You can also do a little more reading on the topic by visiting the NWS website.