Severe Weather Awareness Week: Watch vs Warning

National Weather Service Offices across South Dakota are using the week of April 24th to April 28th as Severe Weather Awareness Week. The National Weather Service will spend all five days outlining key ideas and features of summer time severe weather. 

Today’s focus is on the age-old question of watch vs. warning. Beadle County Emergency Management Director Zach Nelson explains the difference:

Broken down in its most simplistic form, a WATCH means WATCH out, the chance to see severe storms exists. WARNING means a storm is happening or is likely to happen. What of the two words sounds worse? WARNING right? So take immediate action. Severe Thunderstorm Warnings should not be passed off as rain and noise. Thunderstorm straight-line winds can blow up to 80 miles per hour or more. Large hail will cause damage to just about everything. When you’re aware that a WATCH is posted for your county, that is when you should make preliminary plans to consider…”What would you do if a Warning is issued?” When a Watch is posted, find your blankets, bike helmets for the kids, flashlights, battery-powered radio, whatever you have in your emergency kits, get it staged and prepared just in case, while it’s calm and nice, so you don’t forget anything in the rush of taking cover if a WARNING is issued. When a WATCH is issued, you should be paying closer attention to the weather than usual, keeping an eye and ear out for possible warnings. One thing you may want to consider is a quality radar app for your smart device. That way you can track advancing weather systems in the palm of your hand.

As a part of Severe Weather Awareness Week, the National Weather Service will be conducting a statewide tornado drill on Wednesday April 26th. The tornado drill begins with a test WATCH at 10 AM. At 10:15 AM a test WARNING will be issued. At that time, tornado sirens will be activated across the county.


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