Hurricane Alerts & Forecasts: The difference between a Watch and a Warning

Hurricane Watch vs. Hurricane Warning

Hurricane Watch: This is issued when hurricane conditions are possible within the watch area, typically within 48 hours. Preparation steps include boarding up windows, securing outdoor items, and ensuring your emergency kit is ready.

Hurricane Warning: Issued when hurricane conditions are expected within the warning area, typically within 36 hours. Immediate actions are necessary: seek shelter in a sturdy building or evacuate if advised by local authorities.

Tropical Storm Watch vs. Tropical Storm Warning

Tropical Storm Watch: Indicates that tropical storm conditions are possible within the watch area within the next 48 hours. It’s time to review safety plans and stay informed.

Tropical Storm Warning: Means that tropical storm conditions are expected within the warning area. Despite not being hurricanes, tropical storms can still be lethal, mainly due to flooding and other secondary impacts. Follow evacuation and safety instructions promptly.

Flash Flood Watch vs. Flash Flood Warning

Flash Flood Watch: Flooding is possible. Stay alert, keep updated with reliable news sources, and be prepared to move to higher ground.

Flash Flood Warning: Dangerous flash flooding is expected or occurring. Move immediately to higher ground and avoid walking or driving through flood waters.

Flash Flood Emergency

This is issued in extremely rare situations where severe threats to human life and catastrophic damage from flooding are happening or about to happen. Travel should be avoided unless under evacuation orders or directly threatened.

Flood Watch vs. Flood Warning

Flood Watch: Be prepared as flooding is possible within your area. Keep an eye on weather updates and know your evacuation routes.

Flood Warning: Flooding is happening or will happen soon. Act quickly and move to higher ground.

General Preparedness Tips

Always focus on potential impacts, regardless of the storm’s size or category. Stay vigilant even if the storm weakens; impacts like heavy rainfall and storm surge can persist and pose significant threats. Always heed local advisories and remain prepared to act when necessary.

By understanding these alerts and preparing accordingly, you can significantly enhance your safety and the safety of those around you during severe weather events.