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Severe Weather: The Difference Between a Watch and a Warning

Severe Weather Awareness Week in Virginia
Updated: Mar. 15, 2021 at 11:40 AM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - For the first time, the Commonwealth of Virginia has an “official” Severe Weather Awareness Week. At NBC12 and at some Virginia National Weather Service offices, we’ve had special weeks but this is a state-wide project for the first time ever.

From the National Weather Service:

Please join us in promoting severe weather safety during this year’s “Severe Weather Awareness Week”. The National Weather Service asks emergency management, public safety officials, local media and Weather-Ready Nation Ambassadors to help join forces in improving the nation’s readiness, responsiveness, and overall resilience against severe weather during the upcoming season.

Each Day has a different focus, and today’s is the differences between Watches and Warnings

We always field the same question. What’s the Difference between a Watch and a warning? And the best explanation I’ve ever seen comes from meteorologist Brad Panovich in Charlotte

A Watch means the ingredients are there, and we’re watching to see what happens.

A Warning means it’s Here—and you need to take action!

So a tornado watch is issued when the ingredients of severe weather are there, and a warning is issued when NWS radar spots the rotation.

Our app can be a great tool to let you know you are in danger. It used to be you either needed to be in front on a TV with severe weather hit or using a National Weather Service radio but now a smartphone can give you the first alert. But make sure you have your settings set up right!

After downloading the NBC12 weather app from Apple or Google,

1) Make sure you have the NBC12 weather app set to “Follow me.” This way, you’ll only get watches and warnings where you are.

2) Turn off any notifications you don’t want an alert for! the most important ones to leave on are for Severe and Flood.

The others, you might to choose to turn off. I have lots turned off because I don’t want an alert to wake me up for fog, or for a winter storm-- But my tornado and severe thunderstorm alerts STAY ON! I leave on the NBC12 alerts and we do our best to NOT send alerts when most folks are sleeping. We want to give you the first alert, but we also want you to have a good night’s sleep.

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