Watches and Warnings
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Weather Service defines four (4) categories of weather events: outlook, advisory, watch and warning.
- An outlook is issued several days in advance of potential significant weather.
- An advisory is issued if the weather event can/will lead to nuisance conditions on roads and property that could pose a threat for injury.
- A watch lets you know that weather conditions are favorable for a hazard to occur. During a weather watch, gather awareness of the specific threat and prepare for action - monitor the weather to find out if severe weather conditions have deteriorated and discuss your protective action plans with your family.
- A warning requires immediate action. This means a weather hazard is imminent - it is either occurring (a tornado has been spotted, for example) - or it is about to occur at any moment and poses a threat to life and property. During a weather warning, it is important to take action: grab the emergency kit you have prepared in advance and head to safety immediately. Both watches and warnings are important, but warnings are more urgent.
What to do when a watch is issued:
- Monitor storm reports on radio and television.
- If considering moving to a shelter, make arrangements for pets. Pets are not allowed in shelters.
- Refill needed prescriptions.
- If evacuation has not already been recommended, but is anticipated, consider leaving the area early to avoid long hours on limited evacuation routes.
- Check battery-powered equipment. It will be needed if utility services are interrupted.
- Keep your car fueled should evacuation be necessary. Service stations may be inoperable after the storm.
What to do when a warning is issued:
- Have your car fueled.
- Listen to local radio/television broadcasts for emergency instructions and the latest information.
- Keep phone lines open to notify local authorities of occurring events such as fires, flash floods, tornado sightings, injuries, or damage. Do not use the telephone to obtain emergency information.
- Follow the instructions and advice of your local government. If you are advised to evacuate, do so promptly.
- Follow recommended evacuation routes.