There are a number of alerts used by the National Weather Service to warn people of severe weather, flood and tornado hazards, but this can cause a bit of confusion. Understanding severe weather watches and warnings will help to keep you and your family safe during a disaster.
NWS alerts that are used to warn of weather hazards include:
• Severe Thunderstorm Watch – Tells you when and where severe thunderstorms are likely to occur. Watch the sky and stay tuned to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio or television for information.
• Severe Thunderstorm Warning – Issued when severe weather has been reported by spotters or indicated by radar. Warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property to those in the path of the storm. Gather family members and pets and take shelter immediately. Have your emergency supply kit ready and continue to monitor your NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio or television for more information.
• Tornado Watch – Tornadoes are possible. Remain alert for approaching storms. Watch the sky and stay tuned to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio or television for information.
• Tornado Warning – A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Take shelter immediately.
• Flood Watch – Flooding is possible. Tune in to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio or television for information.
• Flash Flood Watch – Flash flooding is possible. Be prepared to move to higher ground; listen to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio or television for information.
• Flood Warning – Flooding is occurring or will occur soon; if advised to evacuate, do so immediately.
• Flash Flood Warning – A flash flood is occurring; seek higher ground on foot immediately. Do not attempt to drive into flooded areas or walk through moving water.
Be aware that sirens are designed as an outdoor warning system only to alert those who are outside that something dangerous is approaching. A NOAA Weather Radio can be critical to ensure you’re alerted to dangerous weather when indoors.
You can find more information about WEA at www.fema.gov/wireless-emergency-alerts, and for valuable tips to help you prepare for severe weather visit www.ready.gov/severe-weatheror download the free FEMA app, available for your Android, Apple or Blackberry device.