The importance of knowing the difference between weather watches and warnings
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How to Differentiate Between Weather Watches and Warnings
Understanding the difference between weather watches and warnings is essential in ensuring your safety when severe weather strikes. By knowing when certain alerts are issued, you can be prepared and take necessary precautions to stay safe through the storm. In this article, we’ll talk about what sets weather watches and warnings apart, as well as how to best stay informed.
What Is a Weather Watch?
A weather watch is an alert issued by the National Weather Service to inform people of the potential for severe weather in their area—including thunderstorms, tornadoes, flooding, or other hazards. This is not an urgent warning, but rather a notification that severe weather is likely or anticipated in a certain region. Watches are typically issued up to 12 hours ahead of the expected weather event, giving people time to prepare for the potential for future severe weather.
Some of the most common weather watches issued include:
- Tornado Watch: A notification that conditions are favorable for a tornado in the coming hours.
- Severe Thunderstorm Watch: An alert that a thunderstorm producing hail and/or strong winds is anticipated.
- Flood Watch: An alert that flooding conditions may occur along rivers, streams, or in low-lying cities.
- Winter Storm Watch: A notification that hazardous winter weather is expected in the upcoming hours.
What Is a Weather Warning?
A weather warning is a more urgent alert issued by the National Weather Service to notify people of an imminent or occurring severe weather event in the area. Weather warnings are typically issued within one or two hours of the expected event, and include things like severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, hurricane warnings, and heavy snowstorms. This alert is meant to inform people of an imminent danger so they can take the proper safety precautions.
Several of the most popular weather warnings include:
- Tornado Warning: A notification that a tornado is imminent.
- Severe Thunderstorm Warning: An alert that a thunderstorm producing hail and/or strong winds is currently occurring.
- Flash Flood Warning: An alert that flooding is occurring, and people in the area are advised to take caution.
- Winter Storm Warning: A notification that hazardous winter weather is occurring and is expected to last.
How to Stay Informed
It’s important to stay informed on all weather watches and warnings in your area, so you can always be prepared. The best way to stay on top of the weather is to subscribe to your local National Weather Service alerts, which will send notifications to your phone or email, notifying you of any incoming weather events or developments.
It’s also a good idea to follow a reliable weather source to stay up to date with the latest forecasts and developments. Many smartphones feature a built-in weather application, or you can use a third-party app to get the latest forecasts. You can also follow accounts and hashtags on social networks such as Twitter for up-to-date weather news.
Knowing the difference between weather watches and warnings can be the difference between being safe during a storm and getting caught in a potentially dangerous situation. By staying informed and monitoring your area, you’ll always know when inclement weather is approaching and can take the necessary precautions to ensure you and your family’s safety.