Randy explains the difference between watches and warnings - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Randy explains the difference between watches and warnings

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- Before we get to the point of going on-air with the latest severe weather information, before the sirens sound, there has been a great deal of planning and coordination between different agencies, public and private.

A watch is issued when conditions are favorable for any kind of severe weather, including tornadoes and may cover a large area.

"It doesn't always mean your community is going to be impacted by severe weather, but there's a potential for it," said National Weather Service Meteorologist Todd Shea.

A warning is issued when severe weather or a tornado is happening or is imminent, for much smaller, specific areas, often smaller than a county, sometimes including only part of a city like Rochester. When there is a Severe Thunderstorm or Tornado Warning at your location, it is time to take action and seek shelter.

We recently paid a visit to our friends at the National Weather Service office in La Crosse.

"Typically what we do is we have assigned duties for each particular area so we're not all doing the same thing or missing something so usually one or two of these work stations will be dedicated to just the radar operator who ultimately issues the warning, said Shea."

They are responsible for issuing the severe weather warnings on storms that we are also tracking, and, in turn, we share those warnings with you on TV, our website, social media, and text messaging.

"If we know that there's a storm popping up with hail down in Stewartville and it's headed into the Rochester area, we can quickly outline a particular threat area," said Shea. "If we don't think that storm is ever going to impact areas like Eyota, Dover, or Chatfield, we would just keep it out of the warning."

Warnings are not exclusive to severe thunderstorms and tornadoes. We know all too well the dangers and terrain-altering effects of flash flooding.

"This event was our biggest loss of life since our office was spun up back in the 90s," said Shea.

The whole process is a big team effort between the National Weather Service, storm spotters, and emergency management -- one we're proud to be a part of here at KTTC.
 
We will be on top of every Watch and Warning this severe weather season, providing the information you need to keep you and your family safe.
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