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VERIFY - Tornado watch vs. warning: what's the difference

What's the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning?

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — It's important to be prepared and know the differences between the two more common watches and warnings associated with severe weather.

What's the difference between a "watch" and a "warning?

The difference between a watch and a warning is that one (watch) is the potential for a weather event to happen and the other (warning) means that the event is happpening.

Credit: WZDX Weather
Credit: WZDX Weather

A Flash Flood Watch is very similar to a Severe Thunderstorm or Tornado Watch It means conditions are favorable for flooding and you should be prepared especially if you live in an area that is prone to flooding. 

A Flash Flood Warning means flooding is nearing or it is currently happening and immediate and appropriate action should be taken. 

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It's also important to remember that Flash Flooding is a rapid rise in water. It is defined by the NWS as "A rapid and extreme flow of high water into a normally dry area, or a rapid water level rise in a stream or creek above a predetermined flood level, beginning within six hours of the causative event."

Remember, it takes very little water to wash a person away. Only about 6.0 inches. Just 12 inches of water can wash a standard-size SUV or car away. 18 inches of water can wash larger vehicles such as full-size trucks and larger SUVs away. 

Credit: WZDX Weather

There are things we can do in order to prepare ahead of the rain that we know could lead to flooding:

  • Always just simply be aware of whether you live or work in an area that is prone to flooding. 
  • Always check with your insurance for proper coverage. 
  • Clear the storm drains around your home. While this may not technically be your job it can potentially save a lot of fuss. 
  • Always have electronic devices charged. This applies to any sort of dangerous weather.  

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