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US Nanny Institute on September 9, 2021

The National Weather Service has released a new thunderstorm warning system. As parents and nannies, we frequently check the weather so we can organize our daily activities and children’s play. We often use the National Weather Service (NWS) warnings and are familiar with the hurricane and tornado classifications. These types of warnings help us understand the severity of the storms in our area, so we know how to prepare for them. This is now true for thunderstorms.


Not all storms are the same. Historically, the NWS issued a ‘severe thunderstorm warning’ if a storm had winds at or greater than 58 mph or 1” hail. Storms aren’t just about wind speed. Some storms create hazardous conditions that range from tornadoes, large hailstorms, and widespread straight-line winds called Derechos, to cloud-to-ground lightning and flash flooding. Adding severity and potential impacts from thunderstorm winds and hail can improve our understanding of the storm intensity. By adding a “damage threat” tag to severe thunderstorm warnings, parents and nannies can better understand the intensity of the thunderstorm.


As of Aug 2, 2021, the NWS issued a new system for thunderstorms. This initiative provides people with more detailed information, so we know what to expect in our area. In the new system, thunderstorms are categorized into 3 types. In order of highest to lowest damage threat, thunderstorms can be destructive, considerable or base. In addition to wind speed, the categories also measure hail size.


Is the Thunderstorm Base, Considerable or Destructive?

So, what do each of these categories mean? The criteria for a baseline or “base” severe thunderstorm warning remain unchanged at 1.00” (quarter-sized) hail and/or 58 mph thunderstorm winds. The damage is expected to be at the base level. This will not activate a wireless emergency alert (WEA). The criteria for a considerable damage threat is at least 1.75” diameter (golf ball-sized) hail and/or 70 mph thunderstorm winds. You won’t get a Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA). The criteria for a destructive damage threat is at least 2.75” diameter (baseball-sized) hail and/or 80 mph thunderstorm winds. Warnings with this tag will automatically activate a Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) on smartphones within the warned area.


The new thunderstorm warnings can help childcare providers keep the children in their care safe. While wind speed and damage are tracked variables, it’s important to note that lightning is always a thunderstorm threat. Any thunderstorm is capable of producing lightning and caregivers must always be aware of the threat and take proper precautions. If lightning is sighted, children should be moved to a safe area – preferably indoors.


You can learn more about the new thunderstorm categories at If you want to learn more about nanny training and certification, check out the Emergency Planning course at the US Nanny Institute.

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The US Nanny Institute provides online childcare classes with certification programs based on a curriculum specifically designed to advance the skills of Nannies and Sitters. The Nanny Institute has over 30 college faculty with a passion for education and childcare, bringing them together to help childcare providers gain practical skills and qualifications that benefit their careers and the children in their care.