July 20, 2024

The Lake Tribune

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Understanding the Difference Between Weather Warnings and Watches and What to Do

3 min read

A yellow tornado siren (Photo By IStock Photo)

Missouri (The Lake Tribune) – In the realm of severe weather alerts, understanding the difference between a “warning” and a “watch” is crucial for ensuring your safety and preparedness. Knowing how to react when a watch is issued or when outdoor warning sirens are sounded can significantly impact your response to potential danger.

Weather Warning vs. Weather Watch

  • Weather Watch: A watch, whether it’s for tornadoes, thunderstorms, or any other type of severe weather, indicates that conditions are favorable for the development of severe weather in and around the watch area. It means that the weather conditions are such that a significant weather event could happen, but it hasn’t occurred yet. When a watch is issued, it’s your cue to start preparing. You should stay informed by monitoring the weather through local news, weather apps, or NOAA Weather Radio. Think of a watch as a heads-up to keep a close eye on the weather and be ready to act if it escalates.
  • Weather Warning: A warning is issued when severe weather is already happening or imminent. This means that dangerous weather conditions have been observed or detected by radar. A warning is a more urgent alert compared to a watch and requires immediate action. If you are in the area under a warning, seek safe shelter immediately. A tornado warning, for instance, indicates that a tornado is either on the ground or has been detected by Doppler radar.

Actions to Take During a Watch

  1. Stay Informed: Keep a close watch on the weather situation through various channels.
  2. Prepare: Review your emergency plan and check your emergency kit. Make sure your safe room or shelter area is ready and accessible.
  3. Communicate: Make sure all family members know what to do and where to go if the watch escalates to a warning.
  4. Charge Devices: Ensure your cell phones and other communication devices are fully charged in case of power outages or have a portable charger ready for longer outages.

Reacting to Outdoor Warning Sirens

When you hear the outdoor warning sirens, immediate action is necessary:

  1. Seek Shelter Immediately: Go indoors to a pre-determined safe area, such as a basement or an interior room on the lowest floor with no windows.
  2. Get Information: Once safe, use a NOAA Weather Radio, local news, or weather apps to get detailed information about the threat and further instructions.
  3. Stay Inside: Remain in your shelter until officials give the all-clear or you are sure the danger has passed. Do not go outside to “see the storm.”

Key Takeaways

  • A watch means being prepared; a warning means taking action.
  • Always have multiple ways to receive weather alerts, especially during severe weather season.
  • Knowing what to do when a watch is issued or sirens sound can save lives. Make sure you and your family have a plan in place and practice it regularly.

Understanding these distinctions and knowing how to respond can make all the difference in ensuring your safety and the safety of those around you during severe weather events.

For a portable NOAA Radio to keep you alerted to weather watches and warnings check out this link – Here. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

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