Tricounty News

Stormy summer leads to clarification of severe warning system

July has been an active severe weather season, and forecasters expect August could be just as turbulent.

Since Severe Weather Awareness Week was a while ago, in April, it's been a long time since everyone received some basic reminders about severe weather. Here is some, often misunderstood, information about the warning and alert system.

First, a watch is issued when severe thunderstorms and tornadoes are possible in and near the watch area. It does not mean that they will occur. It only means they are possible. A warning is issued when a severe weather/tornado is imminent. When a warning is issued, seek safe shelter immediately.

Sirens are OUTDOOR warnings. Sirens are meant to alert people who are outdoors that there's severe weather, to seek shelter immediately and to get additional weather information once inside. People indoors should get weather information on their radio, television, weather radio, etc.

If the sirens sound, they will sound for three minutes. But that doesn't mean the threat is over. Pay attention to the weather conditions or local media to know when conditions are safe again.

If the sirens sound a second time, it is not an all clear. It means the threat is continuing or there's another storm.

Tornado warnings are issued when there's been a radar-indicated tornado or a tornado has been spotted by public safety officials or trained weather spotters.

In addition to the first Wednesday of the month, you may occasionally hear a tornado siren sound for testing. Sirens are often tested and repaired in order to maintain an effective warning system.

Hopefully these few reminders will help everyone understand the severe weather warning system and have a safe summer.