Know the difference between a WATCH & WARNING - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

Flood Safety: Know the difference between a WATCH & WARNING


This week is Flood Safety Awareness Week across the Nation and the WVVA Weather Team will be bringing you tips on how to stay safe during floods here in the 2 Virginias.

Each day this week we will be talking on the air and online about topics like knowing what a flood warning means for you; what to do when flooding is occurring; what you need to know about flood insurance; and how to stay informed.

Flooding is the most common type of severe weather we see here in the 2 Virginias and one of the costliest weather related disasters and the second deadliest (after heat) in the world. It is very important to know the basics about flooding and flood safety, because it is so common in our area.

So, first you need to know the difference between a WATCH and WARNING.

When a flood or flash flood WATCH is issued for your county, it means that flooding is possible. Typically Watches are issued ahead of expected heavy rains. If a WATCH is up for your county:

            ~Monitor weather forecasts

            ~Keep an eye on local creek, stream and river levels

            ~Prepare for the possibility of flooding in your area


When a flood or flash flood WARNING is issued, it means flooding is occurring, is imminent or highly likely. If a flood WARNING is issued for your county: 

            ~Take action

            ~Avoid flood waters on roads or when walking

            ~Move to higher ground if necessary


Always remember that a WATCH means to watch water levels & watch forecasts and a WARNING means to take action.

It is also important to know different kinds of watches and warnings.


            ~A FLOOD WARNING means that flooding is occurring along larger streams, creeks or rivers and is a serious threat to life or property. Usually Flood Warnings are caused by a longer period of rain. Many times in the issued warnings, the National Weather Service will include river, creek & stream levels.

*When flood warnings are issued for rivers specifically, more info will be included-like river crest times. (we will have more info on this later in the week)

            ~A FLASH FLOOD WARNING means there is or will be a rapid surge of rising flood waters. Flash flooding is typically the most dangerous, because the water rises so quickly. A flash flood tends to occur when several inches of heavy rain falls over a short period of time (within 6 hours). However, ongoing flooding can intensify to flash flooding in cases where intense rainfall results in a rapid surge of rising flood waters.

            ~A FLOOD ADVISORY means minor flooding is possible or occurring. Usually the flooding is in a specific location due to continued rainfall, but affects are minimal. If the flooding becomes more severe, then a flood warning will be issued.

Whenever you see or hear that a FLOOD WATCH or WARNING has been issued, make sure to monitor the situation closely. Later this week we will talk about having a flood plan for you and your family that can help you stay safe before, during and after a flood.

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