Watching the Weather: The Difference Between a Watch and a Warning

I live in New England and today everyone is talking about the severe weather potential. However, the closer we get to watches and warnings being issued, the clearer it becomes that most people have no idea what the difference is between the two. So, for those that aren’t in the know, allow me to clear things up:

Watch: Conditions are favorable for dangerous weather. Take appropriate safety measures, like securing outdoor items, going indoors, and making sure pets are safe. Keep an eye on the sky because severe weather could develop quickly. Take your emergency kit out and put it in a safe place in case it is needed.

Warning: Severe weather has been experienced nearby and is headed in your direction. Seek shelter immediately. If there is time, grab your emergency kit before seeking shelter. If possible, turn on the news for weather updates so you know if you are about to be hit.

So what does this mean for today’s weather in New England?

If a severe thunderstorm watch is issued, it indicates that conditions are favorable for damaging winds and large hail. A severe thunderstorm warning indicates that such a storm has been observed and that nearby areas are reporting high winds or large hail.

A tornado watch indicates that conditions are favorable for producing a tornado. A tornado warning means a physical tornado has been spotted nearby, or radar has indicated rotation.

By paying attention to weather alerts, you’ll have time to take the appropriate safety measures and seek shelter. When traveling during storms, have a plan in place for finding cover if a warning is issued. Make sure your family members know the proper way to respond to watches and warnings and always keep an emergency kit ready to go in a centrally accessible location.


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