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Severe Weather Watches vs. Warnings

One step to getting prepared for severe weather season is to understand the different between watches and warnings and how to react to both.

A Severe Thunderstorm Watch is issued by the Topeka National Weather Service (NWS) when the weather conditions are such that severe thunderstorms is likely to develop during the time the Watch is in effect.

A Tornado Watch is issued by the NWS Topeka when weather conditions are such that severe thunderstorms capable of producing tornadoes are like to develop during the time the Watch is in effect.

This is the time to review your severe weather plan (where you'll take cover, how you'll get your information, etc.) for the locations you'll visit while the WATCH is in effect. You should remain alert to changing weather conditions. Watches are issued for large areas (several counties) for several hours, typically.

A Severe Thunderstorm Warning is issued when a severe thunderstorm is indicated by weather radar or a spotter reports at least 58 mph winds or 1 inch hail.

A Tornado Warning is issued when a tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar.

When a Warning is issued, immediate action should be taken for your protection because dangerous storms are occurring in your area. Go to an interior room with no windows on the lowest level of a sturdy building! It could be the most important decision you will ever make.

Warnings are issued for smaller areas and are based on the path of the severe thunderstorm or tornado.