The National Weather Service office in Wichita, KS will be taking part in a new severe weather warning pilot project this upcoming severe weather season.
This is an Impact Based Warning pilot project that is not aimed at the general public.
Impact Based Warning Pilot Project
This project is primarily aimed at those in decision making positions and allows them a better avenue to know which storms may possess greater impacts.
The main changes to the warnings will be the inclusions of tags at the very end of a warning and is considered supplemental data (generally not seen by the public). We will issue Severe thunderstorm warnings (SVR) as we have in the past and continue to add hail and wind tags at the very bottom of the warning as we have in the past. However, if we are anticipating the hail size to be 2.75 inches or larger and/or the winds to be 80 mph or greater, the follow up statement will include within the body of the warning "This is a very dangerous storm". These selections will not precipitate a new warning to be issued, therefore, it is not a tiered warning system.
There are times in which a particular storm may have a small potential for a tornado (landspout, gustnado, QLCS) to occur and the forecasters confidence is to low to issue a tornado warning. Therefore, within the initial SVR warning or followup severe weather statement a "Tornado...possible" tag may be appended within the supplemental data at the very bottom of the warning. This replaces the phrase “Severe thunderstorms can and often do produce tornadoes with little or no warning” as mentioned above. This allows those in decision making positions an opportunity to follow that particular storm a bit closer and monitor for a potential upgrade to a tornado warning. This tag will not occur with every SVR warning issued.
As for tornado warnings, they will continue to be issued as they have in the past. However, if by using our scientific expertise in analyzing the atmosphere, interrogating the radar data, and listening to spotters observing the storm we feel a greater threat for significant damage is possible, we will add a tag (Tornado damage threat...significant) at the bottom of the warning to allow the decision makers an opportunity to know the potential impacts this particular storm has. Within the body of the warning, the phrase "this is a particularly dangerous situation" will be added into the warning text. Once again, this will not precipitate a new warning being issued, it will be appended to the bottom of a severe weather statement. However, there will be times in which the initial warning issuance may have this information.
In a rare case the the tag (Tornado damage threat...catastrophic) may be utilized when a confirmed tornado has the capability to produce catastrophic impacts to citizens. The NWS does have the option to issue a new warning if this is expected as it may be in everyone's best interest to be alerted again. Within the body of the warning, the phrase "A tornado emergency for abc city" will be added into the warning text. Once again, the usage of this tag should be very rare.
Lastly, the NWS is working very closely with social scientists throughout this entire project. They along with our partners (media, emergency managers, and private vendors) will provide input throughout the project to help mold the final model to be utilized across the country.
If you seek more information, feel free to contact;
Warning Coordination Metorologist
NWS Wichita, KS