Severe Weather Terms

It is very important to understand the difference between a severe weather watch and warning.

  • Watches and warnings are issued for Blizzards, High Winds, Severe Thunderstorms, Tornadoes, and Winter Storms among others.
  • The term watch implies that people should be alert for the possibility of severe weather, and have a plan of action in case a storm threatens.
  • When a warning is issued by the National Weather Service, this means that a Blizzard, High Winds, Severe Thunderstorm, Tornado, or Winter Storm has been detected by radar or observed by trained storm spotters or public officials. These warnings are typically for short-fuse events that may only last an hour or so. People in the path of the storm are expected to take action immediately to protect life and property when the term warning is heard.

The following table is a list of watches/warnings/statements that the NWS issues and will be received by Xavier?s weather radio network along with the criteria used for issuing them:

  • Tornado Watch: Conditions are favorable for the development of tornadoes in and close to the watch area. Watches are usually in effect for several hours, with 6 hours being the most common.
  • Tornado Warning: Tornado is indicated by radar or sighted by storm spotters. The warning will include where the tornado is and what towns will be in its path.
  • Severe Thunderstorm Watch: Conditions are favorable for the development of severe thunderstorms in and close to the watch area. Watches are usually in effect for several hours, with 6 hours being the most common.
  • Severe Thunderstorm Warning: Issued when a thunderstorm produces hail one inch or larger in diameter and/or winds which equal or exceed 58 mph. Severe thunderstorms can result in the loss of life and/or property. Information in this warning includes: where the storm is, what towns will be affected, and the primary threat associated with the storm.
  • Severe Weather Statement: Issued when the forecaster wants to follow up a warning with important information on the progress of severe weather elements.
  • Special Weather Statement: Issued to convey update information about severe weather watches.