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Florida weather: What's the difference between watch, warning and advisory?

WTXL's First Alert Weather enhances early warning notices
Posted at 4:40 PM, Jun 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-23 16:40:53-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Florida residents hear it every year, especially as we enter Hurricane Season. Storm watches, storm warnings and advisories frequently go into effect.

But what is the difference between them and what conditions are required for them to go into effect?

WEATHER WATCH VS. WARNING

A weather watch means that there is the risk for a hazardous weather event but timing and/or location are still uncertain. Its purpose is to give people enough lead time to prepare for the potential for hazardous weather but recognizes that the hazardous weather is not occurring at the time.

A warning upgrade means the hazardous weather is imminent or actively occurring and warnings are generally issued for weather events that pose a threat to life or property.

EASY WAY TO REMEMBER: THINK CUPCAKES

A simple way to think of it is a cupcake watch is when you have all the ingredients to make cupcakes out on the kitchen counter but haven't mixed them in a bowl yet. A cupcake warning means the cupcakes are coming out of the oven!

WEATHER ADVISORY

Advisories mean hazardous weather is occurring or imminent, but the hazard itself is less serious than in a warned event. An advisory still means some sort of caution should be taken, but the threat to life or property isn't as high.

WHO ISSUES THEM?

The local National Weather Service office issues the official watches and warnings and they look at specific heat-related risk factors such as time of year, high and low temperatures, and duration of the heat event. A breakdown of risks can be found by clicking here.

Storm Names

Ana

Bill

Claudette

Danny

Elsa

Fred

Grace

Henri

Ida

Julian

Kate

Larry

Mindy

Nicholas

Odette

Peter

Rose

Sam

Teresa

Victor

Wanda

HURRICANE TERMS TO KNOW

Tropical Storm WATCH: An announcement that tropical storm conditions (sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph) are possible within the specified coastal area within 48 hours.

Tropical Storm WARNING: An announcement that tropical storm conditions (sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph) are expected within the specified coastal area within 36 hours.

Hurricane WATCH: An announcement that hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or higher) are possible somewhere within the specified coastal area. A hurricane watch is issued 48 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical-storm-force winds.

Hurricane WARNING: An announcement that hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or higher) are expected somewhere within the specified coastal area. A hurricane warning is issued 36 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical-storm-force winds