Review Severe Weather Safety Reminders

Do you ever have trouble remembering the difference between a weather watch and warning? Here are a few reminders about the differences between the severe weather alerts and what to do about them.


tornado spout
Tornado Watch: Conditions are favorable for the development of tornadoes.

Tornado Warning: A tornado has been sighted by spotters or indicated on the radar in your local area.

When your area is under a tornado watch, start to prepare for a tornado. Plan to take shelter underground, on the lowest level of a building or in an inner room without exterior walls or windows. Check for local weather announcements periodically in case a tornado begins to develop. If you hear a tornado warning, take shelter immediately, as a tornado is in your area.

Severe Thunderstorms

lightning-filled sky Severe Thunderstorm Watch:  Conditions are favorable for the development of severe thunderstorms that may produce winds, large hail and dangerous lightning.

Severe Thunderstorm Warning: A severe thunderstorm has been observed by spotters or indicated on the radar and is occurring in your local area.

Storms can develop quickly and have damaging effects on the ill-prepared. If there is a thunderstorm watch or warning in effect, move away from windows in case of hail and limit the use of electrical equipment to avoid electrocution from lightning.


"Road Closed" sign on flooded street
Flash Flood Watch: Heavy rains are possible and may produce flooding.

Flash Flood Warning: Flooding is occurring or imminent in your local area.

When the sky turns ominously dark, be on the lookout for flood alerts. Start to prepare for a flood if there is a watch in your area by placing important items on counters or shelves. Heavy floods can carry dangerous materials that may break through walls, so stay away from the exterior walls and windows. If a flood starts to build up, move to higher ground. Try to avoid getting in your car, because some floods have the power to sweep a car off the road.

Here are a few tips on how to prepare for a flood if one reaches your area.

Hurricane Terms

Satellite image of hurricaneTropical Disturbance: A loosely organized area of thunderstorms that remains in an area for 24 hours or more.

Tropical Depression: An area of low pressure characterized by rotary circulation of thunderstorms with winds of less than 39 mph.

Tropical Storm: An unorganized area of low pressure and thunderstorms with distinct circulation and winds of 39-73 mph.

Hurricane Watch: Hurricane conditions are possible in the designated area within 36 hours.

Hurricane Warning: Hurricane conditions are expected in the designated area within 24 hours.

Hurricane: Pronounced rotary circulation with wind speeds of 74 mph or greater.

Storm Surge: An abnormal rise in sea level usually caused by a hurricane. Storm surge height is the rise in sea level caused by the storm.

The progression of a tropical disturbance into a hurricane can occur quickly. Without the proper protection, hurricane damage could be devastating. If you see a tropical disturbance in your area, stay updated on local weather reports in case a hurricane forms. Begin to board up your windows, prepare for flooding and back up all important data.

If a hurricane develops and is projected to reach your area, follow evacuation plans and prepare for roads to be crowded. For a comprehensive pre-hurricane plan, review our hurricane preparedness checklist.

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