Tornado watch? Tornado warning? What’s the difference?


RALEIGH, N..C (WNCN) – Watch and warning are words people hear meteorologists use a lot during severe weather season. Many people don’t know the differences between the two.

A watch — whether it’s a severe thunderstorm watch or a tornado watch — means that severe weather is possible. A warning, on the other hand, is issued when the weather is happening. A warning being issued means it’s time to take cover. 

CBS 17 passes along warnings as soon as they happen. Those messages can come from CBS 17 on air, or online at and on the news and weather apps. 

There’s also NOAA Weather Radio, which can be programmed to specific locations. It’s very loud and can wake people up. There are also radios with visual cues for the hearing impaired. Phones can also be programmed to receive emergency alerts. 

Schools and government buildings statewide will hold tornado drills on Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. Test messages will be broadcasted on NOAA weather radios and the Emergency Alert System.

All North Carolinians are encouraged to participate in the drill. It’s really easy: just take a few moments to practice severe weather safety plan, and seek shelter for a few minutes as if a tornado was near.

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