Breakdown: Why knowing the difference between a Warning, Watch, or Advisory is crucial

Published: Oct. 15, 2022 at 11:22 AM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - To better prepare for weather conditions, it’s important to know the difference between a storm warning, a watch, and an advisory. Knowing the difference will help everyone take the proper steps to protect themselves and their property.

The difference between a Watch, a Warning, and an Advisory is pretty simple.

A WATCH means that there is potential for a certain type of weather. For example:

  • Tornado Watch means tornadoes are possible.
  • Winter Storm Watch means that there is potential for a significant amount of snow or ice.

A watch does NOT mean that it is expected. Rather, it means the potential is there, and you should be prepared, and know what you are going to do if severe weather is spotted or a warning is issued.

A WARNING means that life-threatening weather is expected. A warning means you should take action NOW! Using the previous examples:

  • Tornado Warning means that a tornado is expected for your specific location or very close by, and you need to take shelter!
  • Winter Storm Warning means that significant snow or ice is expected, which can be life-threatening to those trapped outside, makes travel difficult/dangerous (at a minimum), impacts your daily routine.

An ADVISORY is like a warning, but not as severe. That is, a threat is expected, but it’s a nuisance rather than life-threatening. For example:

  • Winter Weather Advisory means that a small amount of snow or ice is expected, which will cause travel difficulties and inconveniences. Plan accordingly.

These weather alerts are issued by the National Weather Service.

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