As of August 2, the most destructive of severe thunderstorms will now be included in the Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) system.
The criteria for a severe thunderstorm warning remain the same with a baseline of 1-inch hail and/or 58 mph wind gusts.
The National Weather Service has now added additional categories, considerable and destructive, to describe the threat of damage in a particular storm.
A considerable damage threat indicates 70 mph winds and/or 1.75-inch hail. This description will appear in the warning text but NOT trigger a WEA.
A destructive damage threat indicates 80 mph winds and/or 2.75-inch hail. This will trigger a WEA.
Greg Heavener, the warning coordination meteorologist with the NWS in Pueblo notes this categorization is important because "the higher up you go in the scale of wind magnitude as well as hail size, that damage begins to magnify itself."
He references the catastrophic damage that occurred from baseball-sized hail in Colorado Springs and Fountain in 2018.
Heavener emphasizes that if you do receive a WEA for a destructive severe thunderstorm you must find shelter immediately. Out of the 200+ warnings issued this year, Heavener states only 4 or 5 of them would meet this destructive criterion.