Severe Weather: Alerts & Warnings

(ABC 6 News) – When it comes to severe weather, the first step to taking action is to know both when there’s a possibility of it as well as when it is occurring.

Severe weather involves both watches and warnings. A watch is when meteorologists are “watching” to see if the ingredients in the atmosphere will come together. A warning, on the other hand, means it is happening now and immediate action is required.

Todd Shea, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in La Crosse, WI explains what happens during the warning stage. “When we get to the warning stage, that is when we’re working with our spotters and our local contacts to put out those accurate warnings. “

Warnings can be issued if something is spotted outside, or on the radar. It is essential to have a set plan in place when a warning strikes.

Shea adds, “Start thinking about where you would go if a warning is issued for your area.”

You should also have alerts enabled on your smartphone, and it’s a good idea to get an NOAA weather radio.

If you’re outside, you can listen to the sirens.

Kelly Lee, the Assistant Emergency Management Director with the Olmsted County Sherriff’s Office elaborates on the tornado sirens. “If the weather gets bad enough, then we remotely set the sirens off from right here in the Emergency Operations Center. Whether they be at a family picnic or a ballgame or something like that, the outdoor warning sirens are meant to warn people that are outside.”

Guidelines for sounding the siren vary between communities but know that there’s a threat either approaching or in the area when it is going off as there is no such thing as an all-clear siren.

The statewide tornado drill will take place at 1:45 pm and 6:45 pm Thursday, April 7.

Download the ABC 6 NEWS NOW app for severe weather, breaking news, and the day’s top stories.