Understanding Severe Weather Terms

Understanding severe weather definitions and terms can help you and your loved ones prepare for changing conditions.


  • Hurricane Warning: Issued when the onset of tropical storm conditions appear possible in the warning area within the next 48 hours.
  • Hurricane Watch: Issued when a hurricane with sustained winds of 74 mph (65 knots, 118 km/h) or higher is expected.
  • Severe Thunderstorm Watch: There is a possibility that severe thunderstorms may occur in your area.
  • Severe Thunderstorm Warning: A severe thunderstorm is occurring or will likely occur soon in your area.
  • Flash Flood Watch: Due to heavy or excessive rainfall in a short period of time, your area may experience flooding. 
  • Flash Flood Warning: Flash flooding is in progress, imminent, or highly likely. Seek higher ground immediately or evacuate if directed to do so.
  • Tornado Watch: Tornadoes are possible in your area. Remain alert for approaching storms.
  • Tornado Warning: A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Take shelter immediately.


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