Watch vs. Warning: When to take action - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

Watch vs. Warning: When to take action


All this week on air and online, we will be talking about winter and how to be prepared for it! When winter weather hits, you need to know a few simple things: How bad? When will it get here? How long will it last?


You can answer the first two questions just by knowing the difference between an ADVISORY, a WATCH and a WARNING.


Winter Weather Advisories are issued when weather conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences and may be hazardous. Exercise caution.


Here in the 2 Virginias, we get Winter Weather Advisories often. The advisory can be issued for snow, ice or even a wintry mix that will cause travel issues. It is important to exercise caution when an advisory is up, but don't expect a blockbuster storm.



A Winter Storm WATCH is issued for severe winter conditions that are possible within the next 3 days but timing, intensity or occurrence may be uncertain. A winter storm watch is intended to provide enough lead time so those who need to set plans in motion can do so.


This is the time to get ready. As the definition states, the forecast at this point is still a bit uncertain, but most often when a Watch is issued, an upgrade to a Warning will soon follow. You should still have 2-3 days to prepare for snow and/or ice, so go to the grocery store, hardware store, etc. Make sure you have a back up heat/power supply, food, shovel, rock salt, etc. We will cover more on this later…



A Winter Storm WARNING is issued when life-threatening, severe winter conditions have begun or will begin within the next 24 hours. A Warning is issued when 4 or more inches of snow or sleet is expected in the next 12 hours, or 6 or more inches in 24 hours, or 1/4 inch or more of ice accretion is expected.


When a Warning is issued, you should be at least somewhat prepared for a big storm. At this point, finish up any last minute errands, then stay home. A winter storm gets much more dangerous for everyone when there are folks out on the roads. Do yourself and family a favor, when the weather starts, grab some cocoa and watch from the living room window.



These are the basics to know for winter weather. At times, we will see other kinds of advisories, watches and warnings, such as wind, ice, wind chill, etc, but it is all the same. No matter what the weather, remember what you should be doing in an advisory, watch or warning and stay prepared!

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