Strong storms possible; Know the difference between watch, warning

PITTSBURGH — Several rounds of rain and thunderstorms will move across the area through the middle of the week. Some of the storms could be severe with damaging winds and large hail. So, when a watch or warning is issued do you know the difference?

A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH is issued when the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, determines an area has the right atmospheric dynamics for storms to develop that could produce 58+ mph wind gusts or hail at least 1″ in diameter. A watch means conditions are favorable for severe weather, but it is not a certainty. Watches generally cover dozens of counties or a couple of states and is a broad perspective of where the best chance for severe weather is in the next 6 to 8 hours.

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A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING is issued by the local National Weather Service office when a severe thunderstorm is happening or is about to happen. Severe thunderstorms technically have wind gusts of 58+ mph and/or large hail at least 1″ in diameter. These are issued for much smaller areas than a watch...often a county or parts of a couple of counties adjacent to each other. Most severe thunderstorm warnings last 30-45 minutes.

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Don’t wait for a warning. Take precautions when a watch is issued for your area. Check batteries in flashlights, charge you phone and make sure your emergency kit is stocked with essentials.

If you want to receive alerts about weather, download our Severe Weather Team 11 app.

Our Severe Weather Team 11 App sends you alerts when severe weather is in your area, so you don’t get caught off guard. You can download it at iTunes and Google, and it’s FREE. Get alerts to lightning in your neighborhood, video updates on changing weather conditions and radar right in the palm of your hand.