Weather Warning Terms
What is a warning? Is it serious?
A warning is the most serious level. For severe thunderstorms, tornadoes and flash floods, a warning means the weather event is imminent or occurring somewhere in the defined warning area and that people need to take shelter as soon as possible.
What are actions to take for a warning?
Sirens warn people who are outdoors. Go indoors and find a sturdy shelter. Protect yourself from flying objects. People indoors should listen to radios, TV or Weather Radio warnings to find out the latest information. Check with local emergency management officials to learn about local siren activations.
What is a watch?
A watch means weather conditions are favorable for dangerous weather to occur. In other words, a "watch" means watch out for what the weather could do, and be ready to act accordingly. For events that come and go quickly, such as severe thunderstorms, tornadoes or flash floods, a watch means that the odds are good for the dangerous weather, but it's not yet happening.
What should be done during a watch?
You may wish to alter or have a back-up plan for any outdoor activities or travel. When a severe thunderstorm, tornado or flash flood watch is in effect, it means you should look for signs of dangerous weather and maintain access to the latest information. Sometimes a severe thunderstorm, tornado or flash flood can happen so quickly that warnings can't be issued in time.
What is an advisory?
An advisory is issued when a hazardous weather or hydrologic event is occurring, imminent or likely. Advisories are for less serious conditions than warnings that cause significant inconvenience and if caution is not exercised, could lead to situations that may threaten life or property.