More detailed storm threat info coming this season

NWS expands pilot project

INDIANAPOLIS - Snowflakes are still flying, but severe weather season is just around the corner, and the National Weather Service is planning to provide more detailed information this storm season.

The NWS office in Indianapolis is among 38 primarily in Midwestern states that will take part in a project the agency hopes will make it easier for the public to discern threat level during severe weather situations.

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Beginning April 1, the NWS offices will implement what they have called an impact-based warning system, with a goal of better communicating severe weather threats.

The new warning system will provide gradations to tornado threats and size of hail, among other severe weather elements.

For example, a tornado warning will carry designations as to whether a given storm has the potential for "considerable" or "catastrophic" tornado damage.

The system is intended to communicate hazard and risk information only, not forecast intensity of the tornado.

"They are tagging warnings with language to enhance the warning to give it more detail, clarity and urgency," said StormTeam 6 Chief Meteorologist Kevin Gregory. "Not to scare people, but if someone hears at the end of the tornado warning that the damage threat is significant or catastrophic, they're more likely to take action immediately."

The project is an expansion of a similar effort that began in Missouri and Kansas for the 2012 storm season.

The warning system is primarily targeting media and emergency management personnel so that more detailed threat assessment can be relayed to the public through those channels.

The agency will review the effectiveness of impact-based warnings after the severe weather season concludes.

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