Life is constant change and one of the changes we deal with daily is the weather. As parents and nannies, we are constantly checking the weather so we can organize daily activities. We are used to the National Weather Service (NWS) warnings for Hurricanes and Tornados. These warnings help us understand the severity of the storms in our area and we know how to prepare for them.

In August 2021, the NWS has issued a new system for thunderstorms. The goal of this initiative is to provide people with more detailed information, so we know what threats to expect in our area. Prior to this new system, the NWS issued a ‘severe thunderstorm warning’ if a storm had winds at or greater than 58 mph or 1” hail. The new system breaks these storms into 3 categories of increasing threat – Base, Considerable, and Destructive – using wind speed and hail size.

The NWS points out that not all storms are the same. Hazardous conditions range from tornadoes, large hailstorms, and widespread straight-line winds called Derechos, to cloud-to-ground lightning and flash flooding. The National Weather Service will now better convey the severity and potential impacts from thunderstorm winds and hail by adding a damage threat tag to severe thunderstorm warnings, similar to our tornado and flash flood warnings.


Three New Thunderstorm Categories

  • Base thunderstorm has 1” (quarter-sized) hail and/or 58 mph thunderstorm winds. This will not activate a Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA).
  • Considerable damage threat has at least 1.75” diameter (golf ball-sized) hail and/or 70 mph thunderstorm winds. This does not activate a Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA).
  • Destructive damage threats have at least 2.75” diameter (baseball-sized) hail and/or 80 mph thunderstorm winds. Warnings with this designation will automatically activate a Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) on all smartphones within the warned area.


Lightning is Always a Thunderstorm Threat

These warnings can help nannies, parents and schools keep the children in their care safe. It’s important to note that lightning is not included in the criteria. Lightning is always a thunderstorm threat. All thunderstorms are 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.

We can’t control the weather, but with detailed information, we can keep our children and ourselves safe. If you are a nanny and want to advance your skills, the Basic Nanny Certification program provides in-depth training including Emergency Planning.