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Watch|Advisory|Warning – What Do They Mean?

Survival, LED light, flashlights, lightning

Earth Lightning from Space


Sometimes it feels like we are listening to or watching a Lost in Space clip, for those of us old enough to remember the original series or movie remake, where the Robot is flailing its arms in all possible directions while shouting Warning, Warning, Warning, or Danger, Danger, Danger!  I’m pretty sure the Robot never entered the set shouting advisory, advisory, advisory, or watch, watch, watch but it was a long time ago.

Explaining the difference between a Watch|Advisory|Warning may not be as entertaining as visualizing the Robot with its big bubble head rolling around the set as a mobile siren but a real life experience of witnessing or worse being caught in a flood, tornado or firestorm, naming but a few examples, can make a scene from a television show or movie immaterial in comparison to the real deal.

In our television, radio and cell phone connected world we are constantly getting notifications issued by the National Weather Service informing us to take heed to changing weather conditions or other events that can lead to injury or loss of life. So when NWS issues a Watch|Advisory|Warning notification what is the service actually saying?

WATCH means a “chance” this condition will happen and usually covers a large geographical area for a lengthy time period.

ADVISORY is in between a WATCH and WARNING. The expected event has a good chance of occurring, even a likely chance of occurring, but typically an advisory is used for “less” severe type of conditions. A Wind Advisory might be issued or a Freezing Rain Advisory issued instead of a High Wind Warning or an ice Storm Warning.

WARNING means the weather is already occurring or likely to occur and proper protective measures should be taken. Warnings are usually issued for smaller geographical areas and usually for shorter more defined time episodes.

As the days of sunlight shorten and winter conditions grows near, the likelihood that each of us will experience the issuance of a Watch|Advisory|Warning is highly probable. It’s worth noting that although the terminology is broadly applied the conditions included in a notification can vary depending upon the part of the country you live in. For example, Winter Storm Warning issued for Minnesota where 4 inches or more of snow is expected is different for Louisiana where the Warning predicts accumulations as small as 1 inch.

Be it Watch|Advisory|Warning each of us should take the time to evaluate our preparedness kits and protocols for staying in contact with family or friends. Making sure your home, office and vehicle emergency kit is ready for the change in season can be a real life saver. Don’t forget to check your flashlight batteries or better yet purchase zero maintenance lights from Be safe!

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