|Severe Weather Definitions...defined
(including Watches and Warnings)
The National Weather Service uses specific terminology to relay the weather
threat to the public. In the summer, there are a variety of watches and warnings
you need to understand in order to be prepared:
Tornado Watch: Means that conditions are favorable for tornadoes to
develop. It is normally issued for 4 to 6 hours, and includes many
counties. If you are in or near the tornado watch area, stay informed
via NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio or television. Keep your eye
on the sky, and be prepared to take cover at short notice, as tornadoes
can occur with little or no warning.
Tornado Warning: Means that a tornado has been sighted, or a
developing tornado is reported by trained spotters or indicated on
Doppler radar. A warning is typically issued for a small area for less
than an hour. If a tornado warning is issued for your area...take cover
Severe Thunderstorm Watch: Means that conditions are favorable for
thunderstorms to produce wind gusts to 58 mph or stronger or hail to 3/4
inch or larger in the watch area. These watches are issued for 4 to 6
hours at a time and for a number of counties. Stay informed, watch the
sky, and take cover if a severe thunderstorm approaches you.
Severe Thunderstorm Warning: Means that a severe thunderstorm has been
detected by radar, or by a trained spotter. Take cover if you are near
the severe thunderstorm.
Flash Flood Watch: Issued when heavy rain may develop and result in
flash flooding in or near the watch area.
Flash Flood Warning: Flash flooding in the warning area has developed
or is imminent. Move to higher ground at once!
Urban and Small Stream Flood Advisory: Local flooding of small streams,
streets, or low lying areas such as railroad underpasses is occurring or
Hazardous Weather Outlook: A product issued by local Weather
Forecast Offices to discuss the significant weather of the day. For
spotters and Emergency Managers this product will detail the type of
severe weather expected, timing and expected location of the severe
weather. The Denver Forecast Office issues this outlook around 6 am and
11 am each day under the header DENHWODEN.