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Severe Weather Awareness Week -- Watches vs. Warnings, What to do?

Sometimes, half the battle is understand what the severe weather threat is - and how it will impact you. It's important for you to make sure you're prepared to get severe weather information at all hours of the day, and that you know what it means once you receive it. 
 
Severe weather watches:
 
When widespread severe weather is possible across North Carolina, the National Weather Service will issue a watch. Watches are issued for tornadoes, severe thunderstorms and floods. A watch provides you a "heads up", making you aware that severe weather is possible or even expected in the near future. As storms develop, they could become life threatening and damaging. Watches are intended to raise situational awareness allowing you time to prepare.
 
When a Watch is issued, remain alert to approaching storms. Watches are transmitted via NOAA weather radio, WWAY on-air, our StormTrack 3 Mobile App, as well as our Facebook and Twitter services online. 
 
 
Severe weather warning:
 
When severe weather is imminent or already occurring, the National Weather Service will issue a warning.  Warnings indicate an immediate threat to property and sometimes even life. When warnings are issued, you should have a high awareness of the danger and enact your safety plan if threatened.
 
When warnings are issued for your area, you should stay away from windows and seek shelter in the middle of your home on the lowest floor as storms threaten. All warnings should be taken seriously. If you are caught outside camping, golfing, boating or participating in other activities which limit the availability of shelter, you are especially at risk. Be sure that you know how to protect yourself.
 
Receiving warning information:
 
Warnings are transmitted via NOAA weather radio as well as by us here at WWAY. Whenever an active warning is in effect, you'll see an icon on your screen with your county as well as text telling you what kind of warning it is. In severe situations, such as a tornado warning, we will break into programming with non-stop severe weather coverage to keep you safe until the threat is over. If you can't be near your TV, we keep our Facebook and Twitter accounts current with warning info and our new StormTrack 3 Mobile App displays warning info as well. With the expansion of technology, there's no excuse to not know that a storm is coming once a warning has been issued. 
 
Before the storm:
Preparing before the storm is very important. Have a NOAA weather radio with a warning alarm tone and battery backup in your home. A weather radio will alert you to the threat of severe weather in your county day or night.
 
Develop a safety plan and share it with your entire family. Schools should have a written plan in place and practice that plan at least twice a year. 
 
Staying informed about severe weather by watching the forecast that morning and making sure that you know what to do when severe weather threatens will keep you and your family safe. The actions you take just moments before a tornado or severe thunderstorm hits can save your life. 
 
You can prepare for severe weather and disasters by planning ahead, creating a disaster supply kit, and learning the safest places to seek shelter when at home, work, school, or outdoors. You should take time to understand basic weather terms and the danger signs related to severe weather and know how to respond. Severe weather can strike in an instant. Your chances of staying safe are greater if you have a plan and practice your plan. When individuals and communities prepare for disasters, lives are saved.
 
NOAA weather radio:
 
NOAA weather radio remains one of the best ways to receive warnings at night when you may be sleeping. NOAA Weather Radio is a nationwide network of radio stations broadcasting continuous weather information directly from the nearest National Weather Service office. NOAA weather radio broadcasts official weather service warnings, watches, forecasts and other hazard information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Known as the "voice of NOAA's National Weather Service," NOAA weather radio is provided as a public service. In North Carolina nearly 30 NOAA weather radio broadcast stations provide weather forecast and warning information for all 100 counties. No matter where you live there is a NOAA weather radio station nearby. 
 
NOAA weather radio will alert you 24 hours a day to the following weather hazards in your county: tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, flash floods, river floods and winter storms. Broadcasts are found in the VHF public service band on seven frequencies ranging from 162.400 MHz to 162.550 MHz. These special receivers range in price from $20 to $65, though most radios cost less than $40. The weather radios round-the-clock protection can be a life-saving investment and they can be found in most electronic stores and on many popular websites. When purchasing a NOAA weather radio, consumers are recommended to buy a radio with the S.A.M.E. (Specific Area Message Encoded) technology. The S.A.M.E. technology allows the user to program specific counties into the radio such that it only receives alerts for the desired county or counties. This greatly reduces the number of alerts received. 
 
For residents to be as safe as possible, NOAA weather radio needs to become as common in homes, schools, businesses and public places as smoke detectors. 
 
For more information on NOAA weather radio please visit the following website: 

http://weather.gov/nwr 

Stay safe this Severe Weather Season!

-TB

By: Tim Buckley