National Weather Service expands mobile alerts

MADISON, Wis. — The National Weather Service will expand its mobile alert system to include a new category of severe thunderstorms beginning August 2nd.

The severe thunderstorm damage threat category labeled “destructive” involves winds upwards of 80 mph that take down trees, blow off parts of buildings and can even be deadly.

“Getting that information out to the general public is really what we’re all working together on. So that we can give people more advance notice especially of a higher end storm,” Warning Coordination Meteorologist Todd Shea with the La Crosse National Weather Service said.

“Destructive” severe thunderstorms would trigger mobile alerts in the same way tornados and flash floods do now.

Dane County Emergency Management Spokesperson J Mclellan said a more informed public helps emergency responders through dangerous weather conditions.

“It’s critical to make sure first response agencies  have less to do before, during and after a severe weather event,” Mclellan said. “The important thing is people need to know severe weather is coming so they have time to prepare and make sure they have a safe place to be.”

While only about 10 percent of severe thunderstorms nationwide reach the “destructive” category each year, Mclellan said it’s important that when they do, they’re taken seriously.

“I think it’s important that people do understand that severe thunderstorms are very destructive and can be life threatening,” he said. “Lightning can strike well before the storm arrives overhead.”

Dane County Emergency Management has also encouraged people to get registered to the county’s emergency notifications system not just for severe weather alerts but all local emergency messaging.