Expert Explains The Difference Between A Watch And A Warning

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Summer is prime time for severe weather in Illinois and it’s important to fully understand how to respond to weather alerts. Meteorologist in Charge Wes Browning with the National Weather Service told WGEL the difference between a watch and a warning.

“A watch just means conditions are favorable for certain types of hazardous weather.  For instance, if we have a severe thunderstorm watch, it means that there’s a lot of humidity, there’s a lot of what we call wind shear in the atmosphere; environmental conditions that may lead to the formation of severe thunderstorms, usually in the next six to eight hours.

“A warning means severe weather is imminent.  That is your kind of ‘take action.’  The watch is a heads-up, kind of a tap on the shoulder, ‘hey, be aware.’  A warning is, ‘hey, it’s the scream.  You’d better get to shelter immediately’.”

Browning said the same standards apply to all severe weather: thunderstorms, tornados and floods.