Hurricane Watch and Hurricane Warning: What’s the Difference?

Posted by on July 29, 2013 in Hurricane Awareness, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Hurricane Watch and Hurricane Warning: What’s the Difference?

hurricane warning flag

During hurricane seasons, regulators notify coastal regions of hurricane watches and hurricane warnings. Administration releases these announcements to alert residents of possible hurricane activity in order to prepare cities for these potential threats. But what do these notifications mean?

Understanding the difference between a hurricane watch and hurricane warning can keep you safe and informed, while assisting you in taking proper action before disaster strikes.

What is a Hurricane Watch?

Officials issue a “hurricane watch” when atmospheric and oceanic conditions present a threat for a hurricane in the next 1 and a half days (36 hours). This does not guarantee that a hurricane will actually make landfall in your area. However, experts recommend that families begin hurricane preparation procedures such as:

  • being aware of an emergency evacuation plan and fill your gas tank (the earlier the better)
  • reviewing procedures you must undertake if a hurricane warning is issued
  • ensuring that your household’s hurricane kit is complete and stocked

What is a Hurricane Warning?

Hurricane warnings are released when regulators expect conditions of a hurricane to be present within one day (24 hours). This signifies a prediction of the storm to have 74 mph winds or higher upon landfall in that region. Hurricane warnings are generally more serious and indicate a greater likelihood for a hurricane strike. Along with the declaration of a hurricane warning, schools and offices generally will be shut down temporarily until the hazards subside. During a hurricane warning, residents in affected regions should:

  • bring in any furniture or loose objects from outside
  • secure or board windows
  • make sure that their hurricane kit has been prepared
  • follow any guidelines presented by officials
  • stay indoors unless otherwise advised

How are Hurricane Watches and Warnings Issued?

Residents will be notified of hurricane watches and warnings via television and radio sources. Initial warnings are issued by weather services through NOAA‘s (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) reports of hurricane activity nearby. Hurricane watches are indicated by a pair of red flags with one black square.┬áInhabitants may also be alerted of hurricane warnings along the coast in a similar fashion by two raised maritime flags that are red with a black square.

Residents should not wait for hurricane watches or warnings to be issued before preparing for a hurricane. Have a hurricane kit stored and ready during hurricane season. At the onset of any tropical storm development in your area, be sure to follow reports to keep you, your loved ones, and your belongings safe in the event of a hurricane.