Watches and Warnings (What do they mean?)

To help you better understand how weather can affect you. Here is a explanation of weather watches and warnings.

Below is a complete list of watches and warnings that could affect deep South Texas throughout the year provided by the National Weather Service. Stay tuned to Fox 2 News and our team of meteorologist for forecast every day and up to the minute whenever weather events occur.

Watches | Warnings

Watch

watermill300x250A watch is used when the risk of a hazardous weather or hydrologic event has increased significantly, but its occurrence, location, and/or timing is still uncertain. It is intended to provide enough lead time so that those who need to set their plans in motion can do so.

Excessive Heat Watch

Issued by the National Weather Service when heat indices in excess of 105ºF (41ºC) during the day combined with nighttime low temperatures of 80ºF (27ºC) or higher are forecast to occur for two consecutive days.

Flash Flood Watch

Issued to indicate current or developing hydrologic conditions that are favorable for flash flooding in and close to the watch area, but the occurrence is neither certain or imminent.

Flood/Flash Flood Watch

Issued to inform the public and cooperating agencies that current and developing hydrometeorological conditions are such that there is a threat of flooding, but the occurrence is neither certain nor imminent.

High Wind Watch

This product is issued by the National Weather Service when there is the potential of high wind speeds developing that may pose a hazard or is life threatening. The criteria for this watch varies from state to state. In Texas, the criteria is the potential for sustained non-convective (not related to thunderstorms) winds greater than or equal to 40 mph and/or gusts greater than or equal to 58 mph.

Hurricane Watch

An announcement of specific coastal areas that a hurricane or an incipient hurricane condition poses a possible threat, generally within 36 hours

Inland Hurricane Watch

Issued for interior counties when sustained winds of 74 mph or greater associated with a hurricane are possible within 36 hours.

Inland Tropical Storm Watch

Issued for interior counties when sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph associated with a tropical storm are possible within 36 hours.

Severe Thunderstorm Watch

This is issued by the National Weather Service when conditions are favorable for the development of severe thunderstorms in and close to the watch area. A severe thunderstorm by definition is a thunderstorm that produces 3/4 inch hail or larger in diameter and/or winds equal or exceed 58 miles an hour. The size of the watch can vary depending on the weather situation. They are usually issued for a duration of 4 to 8 hours. They are normally issued well in advance of the actual occurrence of severe weather. During the watch, people should review severe thunderstorm safety rules and be prepared to move a place of safety if threatening weather approaches.

Tornado Watch

This is issued by the National Weather Service when conditions are favorable for the development of tornadoes in and close to the watch area. Their size can vary depending on the weather situation. They are usually issued for a duration of 4 to 8 hours. They normally are issued well in advance of the actual occurrence of severe weather. During the watch, people should review tornado safety rules and be prepared to move a place of safety if threatening weather approaches.

Tropical Storm Watch

An announcement that a tropical storm poses or tropical storm conditions pose a threat to coastal areas generally within 36 hours. A tropical storm watch should normally not be issued if the system is forecast to attain hurricane strength.

Winter Storm Watch

This product is issued by the National Weather Service when there is a potential for heavy snow or significant ice accumulations, usually at least 24 to 36 hours in advance. The criteria for this watch can vary from place to place.

 

Warnings

A warning is issued when a hazardous weather or hydrologic event is occurring, is imminent, or has a very high probability of occurring. A warning is used for conditions posing a threat to life or property.

Blizzard Warning

Issued for winter storms with sustained or frequent winds of 35 mph or higher with considerable falling and/or blowing snow that frequently reduces visibility to 1/4 of a mile or less. These conditions are expected to prevail for a minimum of 3 hours.

Excessive Heat Warning

Issued within 12 hours of the onset of the following criteria: heat index of at least 10°F for more than 3 hours per day for 2 consecutive days, or heat index more than 115°F for any period of time.

Extreme Wind Warning

Extreme Wind Warning (EWW) inform the public of the need to take immediate shelter in an interior portion of a well-built structure due to the onset of extreme tropical cyclone winds. An EWW for extreme tropical cyclone winds should be issued when both of the following criteria are met: a. Tropical cyclone is a category 3 or greater on the Saffir Simpson hurricane scale as designated by NHC, CPHC or JTWC. b. Sustained tropical cyclone surface winds of 100 knots (115 mph) or greater are occurring or are expected to occur in a warning area within one hour.

Flash Flood Warning

Issued to inform the public, emergency management, and other cooperating agencies that flash flooding is in progress, imminent, or highly likely.

Flood Warning

(FLW) In hydrologic terms, a release by the NWS to inform the public of flooding along larger streams in which there is a serious threat to life or property. A flood warning will usually contain river stage (level) forecasts.

Flood/Flash Flood Warning

Issued to inform the public that flooding is imminent or in progress.

Freeze Warning

Issued during the growing season when surface temperatures are expected to drop below freezing over a large area for an extended period of time, regardless whether or not frost develops.

Heavy Snow Warning

Issued by the National Weather Service when snowfall of 6 inches (15 cm) or more in 12 hours or 8 inches (20 cm) or more in 24 hours is imminent or occurring. These criteria are specific for the Midwest and may vary regionally.

High Surf Warning

A High Surf Warning is issued when breaking wave action results in an especially heightened threat to life and property within the surf zone. High surf criteria vary by region. High Surf Warnings are issued using the Coastal and Lakeshore Hazard Message (CFW) product.

High Wind Warning

This product is issued by the National Weather Service when high wind speeds may pose a hazard or is life threatening. The criteria for this warning varies from state to state. In Michigan, the criteria is sustained non-convective (not related to thunderstorms) winds greater than or equal to 40 mph lasting for one hour or longer, or winds greater than or equal to 58 mph for any duration.

Hurricane Force Wind Warning

A warning for sustained winds, or frequent gusts, of 64 knots (74 mph) or greater, either predicted or occurring, and not directly associated with a tropical cyclone.

Hurricane Warning

A warning that sustained winds 64 kt (74 mph or 119 kph) or higher associated with a hurricane are expected in a specified coastal area in 24 hours or less. A hurricane warning can remain in effect when dangerously high water or a combination of dangerously high water and exceptionally high waves continue, even though winds may be less than hurricane force.

Ice Storm Warning

This product is issued by the National Weather Service when freezing rain produces a significant and possibly damaging accumulation of ice. The criteria for this warning varies from state to state, but typically will be issued any time more than 1/4″ of ice is expected to accumulate in an area.

Inland Hurricane Warning

Issued for interior counties that sustained winds of 74 mph or greater associated with a hurricane are expected within 24 hours.

Inland Tropical Storm Warning

Issued for interior counties when sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph associated with a tropical storm are expected within 24 hours.

Red Flag Warning

A term used by fire-weather forecasters to call attention to limited weather conditions of particular importance that may result in extreme burning conditions. It is issued when it is an on-going event or the fire weather forecaster has a high degree of confidence that Red Flag criteria will occur within 24 hours of issuance. Red Flag criteria occurs whenever a geographical area has been in a dry spell for a week or two, or for a shorter period , if before spring green-up or after fall color, and the National Fire Danger Rating System (NFDRS) is high to extreme and the following forecast weather parameters are forecasted to be met:
1) a sustained wind average 15 mph or greater
2) relative humidity less than or equal to 25 percent and
3) a temperature of greater than 75 degrees F.
In some states, dry lightning and unstable air are criteria. A Fire Weather Watch may be issued prior to the Red Flag Warning.

Severe Thunderstorm Warning

This is issued when either a severe thunderstorm is indicated by the WSR-88D radar or a spotter reports a thunderstorm producing hail 3/4 inch or larger in diameter and/or winds equal or exceed 58 miles an hour; therefore, people in the affected area should seek safe shelter immediately. Severe thunderstorms can produce tornadoes with little or no advance warning. Lightning frequency is not a criteria for issuing a severe thunderstorm warning. They are usually issued for a duration of one hour. They can be issued without a Severe Thunderstorm Watch being already in effect.

Storm Warning

A warning of sustained surface winds, or frequent gusts, in the range of 48 knots (55 mph) to 63 knots (73 mph) inclusive, either predicted or occurring, and not directly associated with a tropical cyclone.

Tornado Warning

This is issued when a tornado is indicated by the WSR-88D radar or sighted by spotters; therefore, people in the affected area should seek safe shelter immediately. They can be issued without a Tornado Watch being already in effect. They are usually issued for a duration of around 30 minutes.

Tropical Storm Warning

A warning for sustained surface winds, associated with a tropical cyclone, within the range of 34 to 63 knots (39 to 73 mph), expected in a specified coastal area within 24 hours.

Wind Chill Warning

The National Weather Service issues this product when the wind chill is life threatening. The criteria for this warning varies from state to state.

Winter Storm Warning

This product is issued by the National Weather Service when a winter storm is producing or is forecast to produce heavy snow or significant ice accumulations. The criteria for this warning can vary from place to place.