One of the most important precautions you can take to protect yourself and your family from severe weather is to remain weather aware. Being weather aware means you are informed of the weather forecast and alert to the potential hazards. Knowing what to do and where to go when watches and warnings are issued is key to your safety, but a watch or warning is only helpful if you are aware of them. How do you receive information about watches and warnings? With today’s technology there are many different ways to receive this information but it is up to you to remain weather aware and actively listen for watches and warnings! A weather radio can be programmed to alert you about watches and warnings, but it’s still up to you to remain weather aware in case the radio or transmitter would fail.
National Weather Service Warning Coordination Meteorologist Todd Heitkamp, from the Sioux Falls Forecast Office tells us about the ways you can receive weather watches and warnings.
Heitkamp says watches and warnings are not all the same. One severe thunderstorm warning may warn about large hail and flooding, while another one may warn more about dangerous lightning. A tornado warning may warn about a small tornado or a very large one. He says that’s why it’s important to listen to what’s being said, and to act on the information.
A watch is issued to give advance notice when conditions are favorable for the development of severe weather, whether it is severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, or flash flooding. When a watch is issued for your area, it is time to take precautions and make sure you are prepared should bad weather strike.
Warnings are issued when severe weather is occurring or imminent. When a warning is issued for your area, you should take action immediately to protect your life and your property.