Pop quiz: Do you know the difference between a “severe thunderstorm watch” and a “severe thunderstorm warning”?
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is urging all Americans to become familiar with these two important terms, which your local weathercaster will use in the event of an impending thunderstorm.
Severe Thunderstorm Watch
If weathercasters advise that a severe thunderstorm watch is in effect, they will identify the specific geographic area and time frame involved (when and where severe storms are likely to occur). You should then monitor the appearance of the sky, and listen for updates on the radio or TV. Prepare to implement your family disaster plan in case the storm hits.
Severe Thunderstorm Warning
Severe thunderstorm warnings are issued when a storm has been officially reported and/or confirmed by radar. This means you face “imminent danger to life and property,” according to FEMA. If your area is affected, immediately implement your family disaster plan, as you’re in the line of fire.
Always remember that thunderstorms may be accompanied by tornadoes, strong winds, hail and flash flooding.
A thunderstorm approaches Brookhaven, New Mexico. Rain-cooled air moves ahead of the storm, plowing under the warm, moist air and forming a flat “shelf cloud.” (Photo courtesy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Department of Commerce)