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What do all the Severe Weather terms mean?

La Crosse, Wis. (WXOW) – With winter here, you’ll hear several different terms from the News 19 StormTracker Forecast Team to describe the weather situation.

In the warmer weather months, our area is affected by severe weather. As with winter storms, our News 19 Forecast Team uses different terms to describe the seriousness of the weather. These are terms that you should pay attention to when they’re used and act accordingly.

Severe Thunderstorm Watch: Severe thunderstorms are possible. Be ready to act if a warning is issued.

Severe Thunderstorm Warning: Severe weather has been reported. Warnings indicate imminent danger. Take shelter.

Tornado Watch: Tornadoes are possible in and near the watch area. Be ready to act quickly if a warning is issued or you suspect a tornado is near your area.

Tornado Warning: A tornado has been sighted or likely to occur. There is imminent danger to life and property. Take shelter.


Stay informed with the latest weather information with the News 19 StormTracker Forecast Team. On our website, mobile app, and weather app, we’ll let you know about the latest watches and warnings affecting you.

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Here’s a look at what the differences between watches and warnings when it comes to winter weather:

Winter Storm Warning: Heavy snow, heavy freezing rain, or heavy sleet is imminent or occurring. Issued 12-24 hours in advance

Winter Storm Watch: An alert that a blizzard, heavy snow, heavy sleet, or heavy freezing rain is possible. Comes out 12-48 hours before start of Winter Storm.

Winter Weather Advisory: A Winter Weather Advisory is issued when 2 to 4 inches of snow, alone or in combination with sleet and freezing rain, is expected to cause a significant inconvenience, but not serious enough to warrant a warning.

Blizzard  Warning: Issued for winds of +35 mph, with falling or blowing snow reducing visibilities of 1/4 mile or less.

Wind Chill Warning: Issued when wind chill temperatures are hazardous to life within several minutes of exposure.

Wind Chill Advisory: Issued when wind chill temperatures can be a significant inconvenience to life with prolonged exposure-may lead to hazardous exposure.


Kevin Millard

Kevin Millard-Social Media Digital Content Manager for WXOW.

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