NWS to start sending new alerts for severe thunderstorms

VALLEY, Neb. -- The National Weather Service is rolling out a new way to describe a severe thunderstorm.

Starting next week, any time a severe thunderstorm warning is issued there will also be a breakdown of the damage threat.

This will help to distinguish between a high-impact and a low-impact event.

The categories are baseline, considerable, and destructive.

If a "destructive" warning is issued, it will automatically activate a wireless emergency alert on smartphones in the area.

The alert would have applied to the derecho that hit parts of Nebraska and Iowa in August of 2020.

The new "destructive" alert would have activated for many of those, including the derecho that hit Iowa in August 2020. The derecho is now on record as the costliest thunderstorm in U.S. history.

Officials say the reason for this change is to have a better way to convey to the public when there is an urgent need for action.