PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Starting next week, the National Weather Service will begin notifying people, via wireless messages, about dangerous storms that could cause destructive damage. Severe thunderstorms present multiple hazards, but severe thunderstorm warnings are issued based on just two criteria: hail size and damaging wind strength. The minimum threshold is 60 mph.
But some severe storms can produce winds of 80 to 100 mph. And the National Weather Service wants to make sure that you know when one of these destructive storms is on the way.
"Sometimes we see crazy concentrated pockets of damage," Montgomery County Department of Public Safety Public Affairs Coordinator Todd Stieritz said.
That's exactly like what occurred one week ago in Montgomery County.
"We had this period of straight-line winds swept through the county and caused this few mile-wide track of damage," Stieritz said.
The storm responsible is what the National Weather Service will now define as a "destructive" category severe thunderstorm.
Starting Aug. 2, if a storm of this magnitude is detected, "the weather service has the ability to issue that to automatically activate a wireless emergency alert," Stieritz said.
These alerts, disseminated by the federal government, include tornado warnings, flash flood warnings, amber alerts.
Destructive means the storm may be capable of producing 80-plus mph winds and/or baseball-sized hail.
These super-charged storms pose a serious threat to your safety and can cause considerable damage to your home or vehicle.
"When that warning is issued that's the time for people to get off the baseball field or wrap up whatever activity, if you're on a run, turn around and head home and get inside," Stieritz said.
Stieritz says that once in a safe and sturdy building, go to an interior room on the lowest level of your home and stay away from windows. And stay tuned in to the latest weather information on your phone or on your TV to know when the threat has passed.
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