A warning means that hurricane conditions are expected whereas a watch means that conditions are possible. Hurricane warnings indicate that hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or higher) are expected somewhere within the specified area. During a hurricane warning, complete storm preparations and immediately leave the threatened area if directed by local officials. A hurricane watch means that hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or higher) are possible within the specified area. During a hurricane watch, prepare your home and review your plan for evacuation in case a hurricane or tropical storm warning is issued. A WARNING, on the other hand, requires more immediate action and should be taken seriously. A tornado warning can be thought of as a very specific severe thunderstorm warning, and means that a tornado has been either spotted by a human observer or indicated by doppler radar. A Weather Outlook gives you a heads up; there is potential for a significant storm two, three, four, or perhaps five days in advance.
A Weather Advisory is for weather events with up to 24 hour lead time that are more of an inconvenience and not necessarily life-threatening.
A Weather Warning means confidence is high the significant event will occur within the next 24 hours or less, or is underway.

Getting ready in advance is the key to helping save lives and property, a part of the National Weather Service WeatherReady Nation initiative to increase the nation's weather readiness. Because hurricane preparedness activities become difficult once winds reach tropical storm force (sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph), the hurricane warning is issued 36 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical-storm-force winds to allow for important preparation. A hurricane watch is issued 48 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical-storm-force winds in an area. NOAA tide tables have been in production for 150 years and are used by both commercial and recreational mariners for safe navigation.
A severe thunderstorm warning indicates that severe weather is imminent in your area or is already occurring (based on either human observation or doppler radar).
It means the odds of the event have increased yet some uncertainty remains for the specific forecast area.
As this past weekend's Midwest tornado outbreak showed, it pays to be weather aware and prepared in advance to save lives. The next time you hear these terms, you will be in a better position to get ready for whatever nature brings us.
The National Ocean Service helps coastal communities prepare for and recover from major coastal storms such as hurricanes. A WATCH means that the potential exists for the development of severe thunderstorms or tornadoes, depending upon the specific type of watch issued.

With this knowledge of watches and warnings, you will be better prepared the next time severe weather threatens your area. Although these storms can also be associated with dangerous cloud to ground lightning or heavy rainfall that is capable of causing flash flooding, neither of these two items serve as criteria for a severe thunderstorm warning being issued. Be ready to act quickly if a warning is issued or you suspect a tornado is approaching. Watches are issued by the Storm Prediction Center for counties where severe thunderstorms may occur. Similarly, a severe thunderstorm watch means that conditions are just conducive for the development of severe weather, and DOES NOT indicate that severe weather has been reported.
While no immediate action on the part of the general public is required for the issuance of a watch, citizens should keep up to date on the current weather situation and be prepared to seek shelter if necessary. Watches are issued by the Storm Prediction Center for counties where tornadoes may occur. If in a mobile home, a vehicle, or outdoors, move to the closest substantial shelter and protect yourself from flying debris.

Business disaster management
Information about natural disasters earthquakes
Hazardous materials incidents 3rd edition


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