Share this article:
While the peak occurrences for severe weather events in the United States happen between March and October, severe weather can occur at any time. In order to save lives, branches of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will issue public watches and warnings.
Knowing the difference between the two can prepare individuals for the necessary steps to take when considering the threat of severe weather. Watches and warnings issued to the public are based on different criteria.
“A watch is issued when conditions are favorable, for example, either for a severe thunderstorm or tornadoes,” AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist Dan Kottlowski said. “It doesn’t mean severe weather is imminent.”
“Typical watches cover about 25,000 square miles, or about half the size of Iowa,” according to the SPC.
Kottlowski said there are no set criteria for issuing watches, but if the conditions seem consistent with a developing severe weather pattern, watches can be changed and altered by monitoring ongoing developments.
“It can vary,” he said. “There is not just one set of ingredients; every watch may have a different set of [parameters] from one day to the next since it is based on a synoptic situation that may change within several hours.”
Warnings mean that severe weather is imminent and is based on specific criteria and existing reports received by the NWS.
The criteria include hail that totals more than 1 inch in diameter and wind speeds of 55 mph.
“Lightning is not a criteria for a severe thunderstorm warning,” Kottlowski said. “Heavy rain is not either.”
6 life-threatening tornado myths debunked
Men vs. women: Which gender is more likely to be fatally struck by lightning?
What happens when the body is struck by lightning?
How are tornadoes rated using the Enhanced Fujita Scale?
Identifying nature’s dangerous whirlwinds: A guide to 5 types of tornadoes
Tornadoes and travel: How to stay safe inside an airport or hotel
Warnings must follow the two main criteria, he said, adding urban flood and stream advisories, flash flood watches and warnings, and flood watches and warnings, may accompany a storm with heavy rain.
Warnings are issued through the efforts of individuals working for the NWS.
“The way a warning is issued is that a meteorologist will monitor the weather by radar and look for particular areas where there could be high impact damage,” Kottlowski said. “They will issue a warning and there will be a signature for an existing storm or developing tornado.”
Trained NWS spotters will verify reports of rotation or storm damage.
“This gives the meteorologists confidence in what they are seeing on radar,” he said.
For more safety and preparedness tips, visit AccuWeather.com/Ready.
Comments that don't add to the conversation may be automatically or manually removed by Facebook or AccuWeather. Profanity, personal attacks, and spam will not be tolerated.
The start of Oktoberfest 2018 is upon us and big changes in the weather are expected for the opening days of festivities.
Following a brief lull in tropical weather across the Atlantic Basin, several areas of interest have developed this weekend, including the season's newest named storm.
The NASCAR Playoffs will continue tonight at the Richmond Raceway amid warm and potentially unsettled weather.
The arrival of cooler, less humid air in the northeastern United States will coincide with the first days of fall this weekend.
On Monday, Sept. 17, a series of tornadoes from Hurricane Florence struck Virginia and caused heavy destruction in the Richmond area, including a tree that was housing 70,000 bees.
While crests will continue to work downstream along the major rivers in the eastern part of the Carolinas into next week, some unprotected areas may stay flooded until the end of September or early October.
No obstante, organizaciones sin fines de lucro crearon la primera Guía para la Protección de la Niñez y la Adolescencia en Situaciones de Emergencia o Desastres.
The newest storm in the western Pacific Ocean will track through the Philippine Sea, continuing to gather strength before impacting land later in the week.