September 22, 2021


Severe Weather Awareness: Weather Alerts


SOUTH DAKOTA - It is hard to believe that severe weather awareness week is here when we were observing snow across west-central, South Dakota yesterday.

Throughout the week, Dakota Radar will be doing different stories about severe weather and talk about severe weather safety tips.

Throughout the severe weather season, you may hear the terms, Severe Thunderstorm Watch, Severe Thunderstorm Warning, Tornado Watch or Tornado Warning, but what do these terms mean?

SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH:  Issued by the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, this means that conditions are favorable for the development of severe thunderstorms that may carry large hail to the size of quarters (1.00") or great, have winds of 58mph or great or have both threats.  There still is a risk of a tornado or two but lower then those in a tornado watch.

TORNADO WATCH:  Like a Severe Thunderstorm Watch, this weather headlight is also issued by the Storm Prediction Center.  This means that thunderstorms have an increase risk of producing tornadoes along with the risk for severe thunderstorms with large hail and damaging winds.

A watch typically covers a large area with a number of counties or even a couple of states under the alert.  During this time, you should have a plan in place when severe weather threatens and monitor any changes in the weather.

Severe Weather Alerts from August 17th, 2019
Severe Weather Alerts from August 17th, 2019

SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING:  Issued by a local National Weather Service Office, this means that a severe thunderstorm is producing or will soon produce large hail that is one inch (2.5 cm) or larger and/or has winds of 58mph or stronger.  At times, severe thunderstorms can produce tornadoes.

TORNADO WARNING:  Same as a severe thunderstorm warning, this weather alert is issued by the local National Weather Service Offices.  This means that radar or someone in field like a weather spotter or law enforcement has observed a tornado.  Large hail and damaging winds are still possible with the storm.

Warnings cover smaller areas then weather watches.  When you are under a warning, you should take shelter immediately in a sturdy building, the lowest part of the structure and avoid windows.  Protect yourself from flying debris.  If you are in a vehicle, mobile home or camper; you should find the closest substantial shelter.