Know the Difference: Watch vs. Warning
Watches and warnings are easy to get mixed up in the moment. Know the differences to keep you and your loved ones safe. (Photo by Canva)
In Mississippi, we’ve taken our fair share of hard hits from severe weather lately. The tornados that ripped through the Delta and North Mississippi have changed lives forever. With hurricane season looming just behind tornado season, it’s important to understand the differences in two common weather alerts: watches and warnings.
These alerts, typically pertaining to severe thunderstorms or tornados, keep you informed and may help you relocate to a safe place before a potentially dangerous storm arrives. You should always take these alerts seriously. It’s easy to shrug them off and think, “I’ll be fine. It’ll never happen to me.” But it’s always a good idea to err on the side of caution with severe weather alerts.
Watches and warnings are easy to get mixed up in the moment. Here are the differences you need to know to keep you and your loved ones safe:
- Conditions are favorable for severe weather.
- Often issued ahead of time for a large area.
- Know where to take shelter.
- Monitor weather conditions for updates.
- A tornado or severe thunderstorm is happing or about to happen.
- Issued for a short period of time and for a small area.
- Take shelter now.
- Seek further information about the storm immediately.
One of my favorite ways to remember the difference between watches and warnings is to use a taco analogy. A taco watch means I have all the ingredients to make tacos, and I may or may not make tacos. A taco warning means that I’ve used all the ingredients to make tacos, and it’s time to eat! I know it sounds silly, but it helps me remember every time!
If you are under a tornado warning, go to the basement or an interior room without windows on the lowest floor of your house. Bring blankets, helmets, and other items to protect you. If you live in a mobile home, have a safe space plan. Go to a neighbor’s or friend’s house that has a basement or storm shelter. If you live near a community storm shelter and have time to get there, that is also a great option!
Any meteorologist will tell you to have multiple ways to get weather updates. I follow local meteorologists on social media to stay alert for my area, and I signed up for a service that calls me if I have a threat at my location. Weather radios are also important to have in your house.
If a weather disaster strikes your home or neighborhood, MSU Extension is here to assist in any recovery efforts. Find your local county office here.
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