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Get to know National Weather Service warnings, watches

by Bryan Painter Published: March 9, 2014
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There are about 1,800 thunderstorms in progress around the world at any given time, according to the National Weather Service.

Only a small fraction are classified as severe.

Severe thunderstorms are thunderstorms that produce hail 1 inch in diameter (about the size of a quarter), or larger, and/or with strong wind gusts of 58 mph or greater.

A small fraction of these thunderstorms produce tornadoes.

All thunderstorms are capable of producing deadly lightning. But, the heavy rains or the lightning activity in a thunderstorm does not necessarily mean a thunderstorm is severe.

Be prepared

The National Weather Service’s responsibilities include issuing watches, warnings and other information to help keep individuals safe when hazardous weather threatens. They say the best defense against dangerous storms is to have multiple plans of action, depending on the circumstances, and consistently monitor local weather information.

An individual’s chances of receiving a severe weather warning depends on where you are, what you’re doing and the time of day the warning is issued.

A single warning could turn out to be the most important warning in your life. Knowing how to get information and having multiple ways to hear a warning can help increase the chances you’ll hear the warning when it matters most.

And since it’s important to understand that information, the National Weather Service provides these explanations:

Outlooks

Hazardous weather outlooks are designed to give you information on any hazardous weather that is expected over the next seven days. This includes severe thunderstorms and tornadoes. For severe thunderstorm outlooks, the National Weather Service characterizes the risk as “slight,” “moderate” or “high.”

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by Bryan Painter
Assistant Local Editor
Bryan Painter, assistant local editor, has 31 years’ experience in journalism, including 22 years with the state's largest newspaper, The Oklahoman. In that time he has covered such events as the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah...
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