National Weather Service changes standards for thunderstorm warnings

Published: Wednesday, January 13, 2010 at 8:11 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 13, 2010 at 8:11 a.m.

Inflation has apparently struck the weather forecasting business.

Effective this month it will take quarter size hail for the National Weather Service to issue a severe thunderstorm warning or severe weather statement. Previously all it took was penny size hail.

John T. Ferree of the National Weather Service's Warning Decision Training Branch said the change was made so that there would be a uniform standard nationwide.

A few years ago the larger size hail criterion began to be used by weather service offices providing forecasts for Kansas. During the spring and summer of 2009, several other central and western states began using the criterion on an experimental basis.Ferree said based on the results the chance was mandated nationwide.

In a prepared statement about the change, Ferree said the decision to increase the size of hail for thunderstorm warnings was research-based. Ferree said "Significant damage does not occur until hail size reaches 1 inch (quarter-size) in diameter." By increasing the size of hail, weather service officials expect residents to pay more attention to thunderstorm warnings based on hail.

"The frequency of severe thunderstorm warnings issued for penny-size and nickel size hail might have desensitized the public to take protective action during a severe thunderstorm warning," Ferree said. The larger size hail "Warnings carry more weight."

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