With the warm summer weather having arrived, it’s important to remember that with it comes more active weather patterns. Though it is often said “Red at night, sailors’s delight; red at morning, sailor take warning,” you might find yourself in need of a more thorough warning system between the sunrise and sunset. Whether it be severe thunderstorms and tornados or excessive heat warnings, staying alert to the forecast can save lives.
Days ahead of severe weather, information typically begins to reflect the potential threat. As it gets closer and forecasters are able to more accurately anticipate the type of weather to impact an area, watches may be issued. If the area is under a watch, it means that the conditions are taking place that could lead to more severe weather. It’s important to have a plan on how you’re going to be informed if a warning is issued. A warning means that the severe weather is imminent and to respond accordingly. For example, in a tornado warning, you would want to get to the basement or inner-most room whereas for a flood warning, you would want to seek higher ground.
Watches and warnings are issued by the National Weather Service. The NOAA Storm Prediction Center in Norman, OK, monitors weather conditions across the US and issues daily forecasts showing areas of the country that are likely to experience severe weather. In the hours before storms form, the Storm Prediction Center discusses the weather with the National Weather Service offices within the areas at risk. The Storm Prediction Center then issues a watch to notify people within those areas to stay alert for severe weather. These will also include information about what type of weather events (i.e. strong winds) may take place for you to be able to prepare accordingly. It is important that you stay alert for developing storms and understand your risk. Tune into the local news for updates on conditions or get instant alerts from your NOAA weather radio.
If you prefer notifications to come to your smartphone, there are several apps on the market. Madison and LaCrosse television stations may have weather apps available. You can access these from their websites, Google Play store and Apple Store. There are other weather apps such as NOAA Radar Pro, Wunderground, Storm, Red Cross Emergency, AccuWeather, and Storm Tracker that you can download to your smartphone and personalize. Emergency Management does not endorse a specific app but encourages the use of these apps because they receive the data directly from the Weather Service issuing the watch or warning, thus eliminating any delay that may occur in utilizing other warning message systems, such as Nixle. Warning time is increased when the source of information is directly linked to the warning agency. Do not rely solely on any one alert system, as any form of technology can malfunction. Instead, have multiple alert systems to ensure notifications are received. As they say, one is none, two is one.
It is important to stay alert during this season and always, as a sunny day in Wisconsin can quickly turn into a stormy one. No matter the weather on the horizon, have a plan on how you’ll be informed.