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Do you know the difference between a watch and a warning? It is important.

Watch – conditions are favorable for a particular hazard to develop, monitor the forecast and create a plan in case a warning is issued.

Warning – a particular hazard is imminent or happening and you need to take immediate action to be safe. Warnings are issued by county and city names, be sure to know yours.

How can you get watches and warnings? Digital media has made this so much easier.

Aside from the traditional outlets of NOAA weather radio and WBRZ Channel 2, you can now get forecast updates at wbrz.com and follow WBRZ Weather on Facebook and Twitter for breaking watches and warnings. Better yet, the free WBRZ Weather App. sends push notifications to your mobile device as soon as any watch or warning is issued. Just enable the push notifications setting option within the app.

Lastly, the National Weather Service sends wireless emergency alerts to smartphones based on location if a life-threatening situation is developing. While messages will look very similar to text messages when received, they include a special tone and vibration repeated twice. For additional information, on the Wireless Emergency Alert (WES) feature visit the NWS Weather Ready Nation website.

Find out what you can do before severe weather strikes.

Advance Information

The forecast and warning process begins one or more days ahead of time, when the threat area is determined. Hazardous weather outlooks are issued early every morning, and updated as conditions warrant.

If a Watch is Issued
Local weather offices are staffed with extra personnel. State officials are notified and they pass the information to the county and local level. Counties and cities activate their spotter groups as the threat increases. TV and radio stations pass the word to the public.

If a Warning is Issued
Warnings are disseminated swiftly in a multitude of ways, including NOAA Weather Radio, WBRZ Channel 2, wbrz.com and via social media platforms such as WBRZ Weather on Facebook and Twitter. Advances in technology have allowed people to receive warnings via cell phone, pager, and numerous other methods. Spotters provide important reports on the storm, and emergency officials carry out the plans that the emergency managers have developed. Updates are issued frequently until the immediate threat has ended.

Sirens
Some counties and cities own sirens and therefore decide how and when to activate them.  The National Weather Service does not sound them. There are many different policies by counties and cities. Some will activate them across the entire county for a tornado warning only. Others will activate sirens countywide for tornado warnings and all severe thunderstorm warnings. Some will activate sirens across the entire county for tornado warnings and severe thunderstorms that have winds of at least 70 or 75 mph.  Others will activate sirens only for portions of counties. Also, local officials may sound the sirens anytime they believe severe weather is a threat, even if there is no warning from the National Weather Service. Sirens normally sound about 3 minutes and then go silent. It is very rare to keep the sirens sounding for the entire warning, since that will cause the backup battery to run out, which would be critical in the event power goes out. Furthermore, the siren motor will fail much more quickly if the siren sounds continuously. Some jurisdictions may repeat siren activation every few minutes.  There is no such thing as an "All Clear" for storms. You should NOT rely solely on a siren for a warning.

Media
WBRZ Channel 2 receives watch and warning information as soon as it is issued and disseminates it to you, often by interrupting programming or running a crawl at the bottom of the screen. Broadcast updates come on the Cable Weather Channel, WBRZ’s Facebook Page and a live stream continues 24/7 on wbrz.com right HERE. Platforms such as social media and the internet remain available on mobile devices, even if the power goes out.

NOAA Weather Radio...
The tone alert feature of NOAA Weather Radio will activate specially built receivers, sounding an alarm to alert you to the danger.  It sounds its alert anytime the National Weather Service issues a warning, even in the middle of the night. Make sure you have a NOAA Weather Radio, as you cannot always depend on sirens or phone calls.

For more on severe weather awareness week and severe weather safety, CLICK HERE. Stay ahead of severe weather; stay in touch with our weather team on Facebook and Twitter:
@Pat_Shingleton
@JoshEachus
@RG3wbrz
@KellerWatts 

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