Watch vs. Warning
In general, a watch tells you that conditions are favorable and there is a good chance the event may happen. When a watch is issued, keep an eye on the sky for changing conditions and make preparations in case a weather warning is issued. Watches are intended to heighten public awareness of the situation. A warning means that a weather event is IMMINENT. Measures should be taken to safeguard life and property IMMEDIATELY.
Severe Thunderstorm Watch: A Severe Thunderstorm Watch is issued when conditions are favorable for development of severe thunderstorms. While not anticipated, tornadoes may occur in the watch area.
Tornado Watch: A Tornado Watch is issued when conditions are favorable for the development of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes.
Severe Thunderstorm Warning: When a Severe Thunderstorm Warning is issued, tornadoes and/or severe thunderstorms are occurring and have been spotted or detected by radar. The National Weather Service (NWS) defines a severe thunderstorm as having winds 50 knots (58 mph) or hail greater than 3/4" in diameter (about dime-sized).
Tornado Warning: When a Tornado Warning is issued, tornadoes are occurring and have been spotted or detected by radar. There is IMMINENT DANGER for people in the area warned. The size of the warning area is generally one or two counties and usually lasts less than an hour. Stay away from windows, doors and outside walls. Put as many walls between you and the tornado as possible on the lowest floor of your building. If you do not have a basement, seek shelter in an interior bathroom or closet. Get under something sturdy. Protect your head.