Friday’s topic for severe weather awareness week is watches vs. warnings. When it comes to severe weather it is very important to know the difference between a severe weather watch and a severe weather warning.
When conditions are favorable for severe weather, the Storm Prediction Center will issue a watch, either tornado or severe thunderstorm based on the conditions at play. It will be issued in collaboration with the local National Weather Service that is impacted by the watch.
A tornado or a severe thunderstorm warning is issued by the local National Weather Service office.
The appearance of watches and warnings on a map:
A severe thunderstorm or tornado watch will cover a large area and can even include multiple states. The duration of a watch can last around 6 hours.
When a severe thunderstorm or tornado warning is issued, they are much smaller and only cover a county or a few counties at one time. The duration of a warning can last from 15 minutes to at most an hour.
Severe Thunderstorm/Tornado Watch vs. Warning Terminology:
A Severe Thunderstorm Watch means that conditions are favorable for a severe thunderstorm that is capable of producing straight-line wind gusts of 58 mph or greater, quarter-size hail or larger, and/or a tornado.
A Severe Thunderstorm Warning means that a thunderstorm is capable of producing any of the conditions above at any moment or is producing any of them right now.
A Tornado Watch means that conditions are favorable for the development of a tornado, but it does not mean that a tornado is on the ground.
A Tornado Warning means that a tornado has been sighted or has been indicated on radar. Danger may be imminent.
- Take action: seek shelter immediately.
Stick with the Arkansas Storm Team for details on the rest of this week’s topics for severe weather awareness week.
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