Severe Storm Warnings - Kansas Vs. Nebraska VS Oklahoma

By: Andrew Switzer
By: Andrew Switzer

This morning I was talking about the potential for severe weather today and I said that the criteria for a severe storm warning to be issued in Nebraska is lower than in Kansas.  Over the past 4 years this would be true but on April 1st, Nebraska and the rest of the Central Region of the National Weather Service followed the lead that has been set in Kansas and upgraded their severe t-storm warning criteria.  This is excellent news to me because I think the entire country should us the 1 inch criteria that we use.  The Central Region of the NWS includes Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, N. Dakota, S. Dakota,  and Wyoming.

The traditional criteria for a severe t-storm warning is to have winds in excess of 58mph and hail with a diameter of 3/4 of an inch or larger.  In 2004 Kansas set out in an experiment to use a hail size criteria of 1 inch.  The purpose of a severe t-storm warning is to warn you when your life or property is in danger.  Research has found that little to no damage occurs with hail that is 3/4 of an inch in diameter and that damage starts to happen when the hail reaches a size of 1 inch in diameter.  Also, if the size of the hail needs to be larger, then there are less t-storm warnings that are issued and the public will take the warnings more seriously.  Over the past 4 years this experiment has been an overwhelming success in Kansas.  This has prompted the entire Central Region to adopt the 1 inch criteria.  Which is excellent news!

So we now have the same criteria for severe storms as Nebraska (winds in excess of 58mph or hail that measures at least 1 inch in diameter).  However, Oklahoma is still on the old (and what I consider outdated) criteria.

My hope is that the entire country will change to the 1 inch standard.  However, some locations see large hail so rarely that hail up to the size of 3/4 of an inch is a big I'm not sure if this will become a national standard soon, if ever.

What are your thoughts on the criteria for severe t-storms?


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