Let's review: Watches and Warnings - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

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Let's review: Watches and Warnings

(Source: WAFF) (Source: WAFF)
A typical thunderstorm warning polygon map. (Source: WAFF) A typical thunderstorm warning polygon map. (Source: WAFF)
Warnings are issued for areas within designated polygons, as shown in these samples. (Source: WAFF) Warnings are issued for areas within designated polygons, as shown in these samples. (Source: WAFF)
(WAFF) -

This may seem basic, and is hopefully a review for most of you, but sometimes the basics can be overlooked.

Let’s review the different products that the National Weather Service will issue during severe weather.
 
Severe Thunderstorm Watch
This is issued when conditions are favorable for the development of severe storms within the watch area. The watch area usually includes several counties. These are usually issued for a duration of 4 to 8 hours and are normally issued well in advance of the actual occurrence of severe weather. During the watch, you should review your severe weather procedures should a warning be issued.
 
Severe Thunderstorm Warning
This is issued when either a severe thunderstorm is indicated by radar or a spotter reports a thunderstorm producing hail one inch or larger in diameter and/or winds equal to exceeding 58 miles an hour. Severe thunderstorms can also produce tornadoes. You should immediately seek safe shelter when a severe thunderstorm warning is issued. Lightning frequency and torrential rain are not criteria for issuing severe storm warnings. These warnings are usually issued for less than an hour and include only a specific area within a polygon.

Tornado Watch
This is issued when conditions are favorable for the development of tornadoes in the watch area. The size of the watch can vary depending on the weather situation, but typically covers many counties within the viewing area. These are usually issued for 4 to 8 hours well in advance of the occurrence of severe weather. During the watch, you should review your weather safety procedures and be prepared to move to safety if threatening weather approaches.

Tornado Warning
This is issued when a tornado is indicated by radar or sighted by spotters. A warning can be issued without a watch already in effect. These are usually issued for a duration around 30 minutes and include only a specific area of towns. If this is issued for your area, you should seek shelter immediately.

If you don’t have this turned off on your newer model NOAA Weather Radio, you could also receive a Significant Weather Advisory. These are issued for strong storms that are below severe levels, but still may have adverse impacts. These are usually issued for the threat of wind gusts of 40-58 mph and/or hail up to 1 inch in diameter.

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