Ask NOAA

Ask NOAA

Question

What’s the difference between a severe weather (thunderstorm, tornado, etc.) watch and warning?

Answer

A Watch means severe weather may develop and gives you time to prepare for potential weather threats. It’s issued by NOAA’s Storm Predication Center meteorologists and typically lasts three to six hours.

A Warning means severe weather is occurring or about to occur and to take immediate action to protect yourself. It’s issued by local National Weather Service forecast offices and lasts an hour or less.

How to Get Watches and Warnings
The most immediate and reliable way to get severe weather watches and warnings is NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards and NOAA’s National Weather Service Web site — www.weather.gov. Your local television and radio stations also broadcast watch and warning information.

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