When severe weather is approaching, watches and warnings are issued to inform the public of impending threats. There is a distinct difference between a watch and a warning, and knowing the difference can save your life.
"Watches, like severe thunderstorm watches and tornado watches, which are two of the most common types, are issued when weather conditions are conducive for the event to occur," AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist Mike Pigott said.
The Storm Prediction Center (SPC) defines a "severe thunderstorm watch" by outlining an "area where an organized episode of hail one inch in diameter or larger and/or damaging thunderstorm winds are expected during a three- to eight-hour period."
A "tornado watch," for example, includes the "large hail and damaging wind threats, as well as the possibility of multiple tornadoes," according to the SPC. Typically, most watches cover roughly 25,000 square miles.
Watches are issued by the SPC. Warnings are issued by local National Weather Service (NWS) stations.
"Warnings are different. A warning is issued when the weather event is happening now," Pigott said. "In terms of flooding, for instance, a flood warning means a river has spilled over or flash flooding is occurring."
"Basically, a watch means atmospheric conditions are right for it to happen. Warnings mean it's actually happening," Pigott said.
A tornado warning means that a tornado has already been detected.
"A (tornado) warning means your life and property are in danger. When a warning is issued, move indoors, preferably to the basement. If no basement, interior rooms or the bath room can offer protection. The pipes add strength to the structure there," AccuWeather.com Chief Forecaster Elliot Abrams added.
Some of the warmest weather of the year will continue across Alaska over the next few days, challenging more records.
Join us on Thursday for AccuWeather LIVE, we will discuss the debate of climate change and hurricane frequency and the top five things you need to know about summer weather.
Warmth is forecast to build over much of the eastern half of the nation by July, with Alaska of all places helping out.
A brief synopsis of the top five worst weather events of last summer.
The storms could affect cities from St. Louis to Evansville, Ind., Louisville, Ky., Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio to Huntington, W.Va.
A tornado touched down at Denver International Airport as a severe weather system moved through the area.
East Coast (1893)
Hurricane arrived off Cape Cod, after crossing Florida and sweeping the Southeast coast.
Wellesly Hills, MA (1998)
2.35" of rain in 35 minutes.
Mayo, Yukon Territory (1950)
95 degrees -- hottest ever in province.