April 8 through April 12 is Severe Weather Awareness week in Minnesota and Wisconsin. It’s time to prepare for the threat of severe thunderstorms. In the warmer weather months, our area is affected by severe weather. The 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 then act accordingly.
Severe Thunderstorm Watch: Severe thunderstorms are possible. A thunderstorm is severe if winds gust to at least 58 mph, and hail 1″ or larger falls. Tornadoes can also occur. Watches typically cover larger areas and last 6 hours. Be ready to act if a warning is issued.
Severe Thunderstorm Warning: Severe weather has been reported. Warnings indicate imminent danger. Take shelter. A warning is typically in effect for 30 to 60 minutes and usually covers a county.
Tornado Watch: Tornadoes are possible in and near the watch area. Watches typically cover larger areas and last 6 hours. 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 radar indicates it is likely to occur. There is imminent danger to life and property. Take shelter. The warning is typically in effect for 30 to 60 minutes and usually covers a county, or part of a county.
Flash Flood Watch: A Flash Flood Watch is issued when the potential for flash flooding exists. Usually these are issued when abundant, heavy rainfall is expected from thunderstorms, especially if the ground is already near saturation. Flash Flood Watches are sometimes issued if there is a possibility of a dam failure as well. Watches typically cover larger areas and last several hours.
Flash Flood Warning: A Flash Flood Warning is issued when a rapid rise in small creeks and streams is expected. Flash Flooding or mudslides are expected or occurring. The warning is typically in effect for 2 to 3 hours and covers a county.