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Severe Weather Awareness Week: Watches vs. Warnings

Natural disasters don't plan ahead, but you can!

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — When severe weather strikes the National Weather Service can issue watches and warnings for the area. Here in West Michigan, the Grand Rapids office is responsible for issuing these types of weather alerts. 

Knowing the difference between a watch and a warning and how to react to them can save lives.

So let’s break them down.

When a severe thunderstorm watch is issued it's all about preparation. A watch means that severe thunderstorms are possible in and near the large watch area. 

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You should make sure you have ways to receive your weather information, avoid things like golfing, fishing, bike riding, and camping. This is because lightning is attracted to many objects associated with these activities. You’ll want to secure outdoor objects, close windows, and your garage. Be ready to seek shelter in a sturdy building. 

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The time to get into that sturdy building will often come with an issued severe thunderstorm warning. A warning is issued to a small area when severe weather has been reported by storm spotters or indicated by radar. 

Meaning the time to act is NOW and imminent danger to property and life is possible. You should remain in your designated safe location until the warning has ended. 

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Once the storm is over be sure that there are no new storms developing, check on neighbors who may need assistance, stay away from any storm damage, and report any fallen trees or powerlines. 

If you have any questions in regards to watches vs warnings or severe weather in general please text us at 616-559-1310.

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