OTTAWA COUNTY, Mich. — Ottawa County will add a new “SVR-Destructive” category to its list of outdoor warning siren activations as the National Weather Service moves to a new Severe Thunderstorm Warning system that categorizes a storm based on danger or damage and warns accordingly.
The new category will be the highest potential for danger or damage from a severe thunderstorm and will indicate winds of 80 miles per hour or higher or hail that is 2.75 inches in diameter, according to a news release Friday.
Currently, the county’s outdoor warning sirens are activated for a tornado warning from the National Weather Service, a visual confirmation of a tornado from a trained weather spotter, sustained winds of 70 miles per hour or higher or for a hazardous materials situation that warrants shelter in place.
Including the new “SVR-Destructive” should simplify and expedite the county’s activation procedure during dangerous storms, according to the county’s emergency management department.
Effectively, the only factor the county is adding is that baseball-sized hail will prompt an outdoor warning siren activation.
80 miles-per-hour winds would have already resulted in an activation since they’re higher than the 70 miles-per-hour threshold.