The difference between watches and warnings

Do you know the difference between watches and warnings? FOX 11 Meteorologist Doug Higgins explains.

Pretty soon we’ll start to see severe weather season move into Northeast Wisconsin. Here’s a review of the difference between watches and warnings.

Severe Thunderstorm Watch

We’ll start with a severe thunderstorm watch. It’s defined by a large yellow square or rectangle. It means anywhere in or close to the box is the possibility of damaging winds, hail or maybe even an isolated tornado.

What do you need to do when a watch is issued? Use your eyes. Watch FOX 11 or fox11online.com for the latest weather. Also listen to your weather radio. If skies turn stormy go inside, that could be severe weather.

Tornado Watch

When a tornado watch is issued it’s a red box and you have to do the same thing. Tornadoes are possible in or near the watch box (along with all other forms of severe weather). You need to use your eyes in a tornado watch. Watch FOX 11 and fox11online.com and listen to your weather radio. If skies turn stormy, get inside.

Tornado Warning

Warnings are not where to use your eyes but your feet, get to shelter right now. A warning is much smaller box; it tells you severe weather is occurring. So with a tornado warning, get to shelter now. A tornado has been spotted on the ground or is indicated by radar. Get to your lowest floor. The best place is a basement. If you don’t have a basement, then go to a small interior room without windows.

Severe Thunderstorm Warning

What about a severe thunderstorm warning? It’s about the same thing, get to shelter now. Storm is sighted or identified by radar. Multiple things could be happening in the storm, including 1″ or greater hail, 58 mph winds, and maybe an isolated tornado. Same rules apply – get inside, away from windows.

That’s the difference between watches and warnings.

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