Severe Thunderstorm Watch, Warning or Advisory: What’s the Difference?

When severe thunderstorms are in the forecast, you know you are in store for extreme weather. According to the National Weather Service, severe thunderstorms are those that have winds of at least 58 miles per hour, the ability to produce a tornado, and/or hail that is at least 1 inch in diameter, which is about the size of a quarter.

To alert people to this threat, the National Weather Service may issue a storm watch, warning or advisory. But what do these classifications mean, and how should you prepare your business for each type?

What Is a Severe Thunderstorm Watch?

When the National Weather Service issues a severe thunderstorm watch, this means that the current weather conditions are favorable to the development of severe thunderstorms in your area. Watches are usually in effect for four to eight hours and are typically issued well in advance of the thunderstorms actually occurring.

Because storms have not yet developed under a watch, it is a good time to review your response plans and evacuation drills. Bring in any items on the property that are not secured to the ground. If you have supplies on hand, you can also take the opportunity to reinforce doors and windows.

What Is a Severe Thunderstorm Advisory?

A severe thunderstorm advisory indicates that weather conditions have reached the point where they may cause significant inconvenience and you should exercise caution if you are out and about. Under an advisory, there may be high winds or heavy rain, but thunderstorms have not fully developed.

During an advisory, double-check any vulnerable areas of the building and property to make sure they are as secure as possible. If you notice any loose items that can be safely moved, store them somewhere secure.

What Is a Severe Thunderstorm Warning?

A warning will be issued when severe thunderstorms are imminent or occurring in your area. They are usually in effect for about an hour, and they may be issued without a watch or advisory already in effect. The warning will include where the storms are located and which towns will be primarily affected.

At this point, you and any employees or patrons should take shelter inside the building, as tornados can develop during severe thunderstorms without warning. Avoid running the water and using appliances during this time to prevent short-circuiting and electrocution.

Severe Weather Planning From URI

The best way to keep your business safe is to have a plan in place for when severe weather hits. At URI, our specialists will help you develop strategies to mitigate damage and protect your property.

If your building does become damaged, you can count on us to respond quickly and take all the necessary steps to help your business recover faster. Whether it’s emergency stabilization, climate control, debris removal, or other emergency services, URI has the skills and experience to get your building back on track.

For more information about our emergency response services, complete our online contact form today.


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