Learn Your Winter Weather Terms on Day Two of Winter Weather Preparedness Week
Knowing the difference between watch, warning and advisory key to adequate preparation
(ATLANTA) – Advance warning is the most powerful preparedness tool for severe winter weather, however many Georgians remain unclear about the difference between a winter weather watch, advisory and warning. During Winter Weather Preparedness Week, the Georgia Emergency Management Agency/Homeland Security’s (GEMA) Ready Georgia campaign is taking the time to remind Georgians about the significance of each condition.
“As storms threaten, you will hear terms like ‘watch,’ ‘warning,’ and ‘advisory’ and we want to make certain that all Georgia residents understand what each means,” said GEMA Director Charley English.
A winter storm watch is issued when significant winter weather (i.e. 2 inches or more of snow, ½ inch or more of sleet, ¼ inch or more of freezing rain, or a combination of these events) is possible, but not imminent. A wide range of weather events can prompt a winter storm watch so make sure to pay attention to what the watch is calling for specifically. A watch is typically issued 12 to 48 hours before the possibility of winter weather.
A winter weather advisory indicates that winter weather is imminent and may cause inconveniences; monitor media for your local impacts. A winter weather advisory is issued up to 36 hours before an event where an 80 percent or greater chance of winter precipitation (i.e. snow, freezing rain/drizzle, sleet or blowing snow) is expected to cause inconveniences, but does not meet warning criteria.
Finally, a winter storm warning is issued when a significant winter storm (i.e., 2 inches or more of snow, ½ inch or more of sleet, ¼ inch or more of freezing rain, or a combination of these events) is imminent and is a dangerous threat to life and property. These warnings are typically issued up to 36 hours before an event that has an 80 percent or greater chance of significant winter precipitation.
When a winter storm watch is issued, residents should review their preparations to ensure they will be ready if a severe winter weather event occurs. That is the time to purchase additional food, make sure you have a Ready kit in your automobile and consider changing travel plans. When a winter weather advisory is issued, that means that the likelihood of severe winter weather has increased and you should put your winter winter weather safety plan into action. A winter storm warning indicates that there is a high likelihood of a winter event severe enough to threaten life and property. You should avoid all unnecessary travel and be prepared for potentially dangerous weather conditions.
“It’s important for people to pay attention to winter weather forecasts and monitor them as they change in advance of a storm,” said Keith Stellman, meteorologist with the Peachtree City office of the National Weather Service. “A developing winter event may merit a winter storm watch at the outset, but could trigger a winter storm warning by the time it arrives. It’s critical for Georgia residents to stay weather aware during the winter months.”
For those interested in staying up-to-date with the latest winter weather conditions, the Ready Georgia mobile app, features geo-targeted severe weather alerts, a map of shelters during emergencies, maps of live traffic conditions and a mobile emergency supplies checklist.
In addition to the mobile app, there are numerous other methods to receive weather watches, warnings and advisories. Examples include:
- NOAA Weather Radio: Watches and Warnings issued by National Weather Service (NWS) air on these radios.
- Television Stations: Local or national news stations monitor and broadcast weather alerts.
- AM/FM Radio: Radio stations are required to air Emergency Alert System messages.
- Smartphone Applications: Numerous free and paid smartphone applications have been created, notifying the public of severe weather. Some of these applications use the GPS tracking on your phone and will notify you of severe weather warnings based upon your location.
- Text Message Alerts: Some television stations use text message alerts for specific areas.
- Alert FM Receiver: Similar to a NOAA Weather Radio, but relays the message from FM Stations.
- County Alert Systems: Some counties use outdoor warning sirens while others may use a telephone notification system. Contact your local EMA director to find out what warning system is used.
- Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA): WEA are emergency messages sent by authorized government alerting authorities through your mobile carrier. The alert system requires no need to download an app nor subscribe to a service. The WEA message will usually provide the category and time, the agency issuing the alert and what action you should take.
On the Ready Georgia website (www.ready.ga.gov), Georgians can create a Ready profile and receive a tailored communications plan for the entire family that includes the specific amount of supplies to put in their Ready kits. The website also offers local emergency contact information and an online toolkit to help individuals and organizations localize Ready Georgia’s message. For those with functional needs, the website offers emergency preparedness videos in American Sign Language, informational documents in Braille, large-print versions of promotional flyers and written transcripts of all audio/visual materials.
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About Ready Georgia
Ready Georgia is a statewide campaign designed to educate and empower Georgians to prepare for and respond to natural disasters, pandemic outbreaks, potential terrorist attacks and other large-scale emergencies. The campaign is a project of the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) and provides a local dimension to Ready America, a broader national campaign. Ready Georgia aims to prepare citizens for maintaining self-sufficiency for at least 72 hours following an emergency, and uses an interactive Web site, online community toolkit, broadcast and print advertising and public awareness media messaging to reach its audiences. Ready Georgia is also on Facebook and YouTube.