National Weather Service Severe Weather

The National Weather Service (NWS) forecast office for Garland is located in Fort Worth.  It has a team of meteorologists on hand 24 hours a day, 7 days a week monitoring the ever- changing weather situation.  Based on their extensive knowledge and the latest technology, they work to issue watches and warnings about potentially dangerous weather situations.  The City of Garland Office of Emergency Management stays in contact with these meteorologists daily and is notified of significant weather situations immediately. 

In recent years, the NWS has changed how they issue alerts.  In the past, alerts were issued by county.  Now they are issued by the specific area that is affected or “polygon.”   This allows the forecasters to be much more specific about what area is affected and allows for fewer false alarms.   The down side is that it makes getting the word out much more challenging since most warning systems are intended to reach an entire city or county…or even region (as with television and radio broadcasts).

The NWS does not just provide these weather alerts to emergency management, they also provide this information to television and radio broadcast media to ensure that all citizens get the message.  To best protect yourself from any dangerous weather conditions, you should make a habit of checking the weather forecast daily.  It will not only help you decide what clothing to wear, it could help save your life.

Watches vs. Warnings

The NWS issues two basic types of alerts: watches and warnings.  Knowing the difference between the two will help you decide the best way to respond.  Various weather conditions have different levels of risk and the NWS uses a multi-tier system of weather statements to notify the public of threatening weather conditions.

Watch

A watch is used when the risk of a hazardous weather event has increased significantly, but its occurrence, location, or timing is still uncertain. It is intended to provide enough lead time so those who need to set their plans in motion can do so. A watch means that hazardous weather is possible.  People should have a plan of action in case a storm threatens and they should listen for later information and possible warnings especially when planning travel or outdoor activities. NWS may activate Skywarn storm spotters in areas affected by watches to help them better track and analyze the event.

Warning

A warning is issued when a hazardous weather event is occurring or imminent. A warning means weather conditions pose a threat to life or property. People in the path of the storm need to take protective action immediately.

The “watch” is essentially your initially alert from the NWS that things could get ugly in your area later.  You should take these watches seriously and begin to prepare your plan of action for your family.  You should also make sure that you stay alert to the weather conditions by checking local media outlets or ensuring that your NOAA All-Hazards weather radio is on and has back-up power.  You should also ensure that your family members all know about the potential for the weather to change.

The “warning” means that weather has become so dangerous that it now poses a threat to life or property.   You should take immediate action to protect yourself and others.