National Weather Service Severe Weather Products
and What They Mean
The National Weather Service (NWS) uses specific terminology to relay the weather threat to the public in the fastest way possible. In the spring and summer, there are a variety of watches, warnings, and statements you need to understand in order to be prepared. Keep these in mind as we approach the 2010 Severe Weather Season:
TORNADO WATCH - Means that conditions are favorable for tornadoes to develop. It is normally issued for 4 to 6 hours, and can include many counties. If you are in or near the Tornado Watch area, stay informed with NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television.
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 45 minutes. If a Tornado Warning is issued for your area, take cover immediately!
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH - Means that conditions are favorable for thunderstorms to produce large hail or damaging winds. These watches are normally issued for 4 to 6 hours at a time, and for a large number of counties. Once again, if you are in or near the Severe Thunderstorm Watch area, stay informed with NOAA All-Hazards Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television.
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING - Means that a severe thunderstorm has been detected by Doppler radar, or by a trained spotter. The NWS in Pleasant Hill will issue a Severe Thunderstorm Warning for storms capable of producing wind gusts 58 mph or stronger, or hail 1 inch in diameter or larger. Take cover quickly if a severe thunderstorm approaches you, or if one is reported in your area.
SEVERE WEATHER STATEMENT - The Severe Weather Statement is a follow-up to Tornado and Severe Thunderstorm Warnings. These statements inform you of the current status of a tornado or severe thunderstorm. In addition, it gives the history of a storm, where it is moving, and who it will affect. This NWS product is also used to cancel or expire all or part of a warning.
SIGNIFICANT WEATHER ADVISORY - A Special Weather Statement called a “Significant Weather Alert” will be issued to either address storms that are either just below severe criteria, for storms that are expected to produce penny or nickel size hail, or to give a heads-up for storms that *are* severe and are moving towards your area. The Significant Weather Alert contains important information for storms just below warning criteria!
FLOOD WATCH - This is issued when heavy rain may develop and result in flooding or flash flooding in or near the watch area. A Flood Watch will also be issued if ground, river/stream conditions, or radar surveillance indicate flash flooding is possible, but not imminent within a designated area.
FLASH FLOOD WARNING - Means flash flooding has developed or is imminent in the area. A Flash Flood warning is typically issued for a period of 6 to 12 hours. When a Flash Flood Warning is issued, move to higher ground immediately!
FLOOD WARNING - A Flood Warning is issued whenever flooding is expected along a gauged river or stream. The warning will be issued for that point specific to the gauge site. Flood Warnings are also issued for counties (or parts of counties) whenever prolonged or slow-response flooding is expected to occur. A Flood Warning may be issued upon the expiration of a Flash Flood Warning, and its duration may last up to a day.
HAZARDOUS WEATHER OUTLOOK - This product issued by the NWS discusses the significant weather threats of the day, and also out through the next seven days. It describes potential weather hazards for an area, and is especially reated for trained spotters and Emergency Managers. The Hazardous Weather Outlook will detail the type of severe weather expected (if any), timing, and expected location of the severe weather. This product should be used daily as a briefing tool for severe weather potential.
Kansas and Missouri Severe Weather Awareness Week
March 4-8, 2013