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What do warning, watch and advisory mean?

watch warning advisory weather graphic

watch warning advisory weather graphic

In case you’ve ever wondered the difference between these terms, here they are, explained (based on NWS). 

You can follow live updates for the Jan. 17 weather event, here. 

Warning:

A warning is issued when a hazardous weather or hydrologic event is occurring, imminent or likely. A warning means weather conditions pose a threat to life or property. People in the path of the storm need to take protective action.

Watch:

A watch is used when the risk of a hazardous weather or hydrologic event has increased significantly, but its occurrence, location or timing is still uncertain. It is intended to provide enough lead time so those who need to set their plans in motion can do so. A watch means that hazardous weather is possible. People should have a plan of action in case a storm threatens and they should listen for later information and possible warnings especially when planning travel or outdoor activities.

Advisory:

An advisory is issued when a hazardous weather or hydrologic event is occurring, imminent or likely. Advisories are for less serious conditions than warnings , cause significant inconvenience and if caution is not exercised, could lead to situations that may threaten life or property.

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