Severe weather comes in all shapes and sizes, and does not discriminate against time of day, day of week or location. As a Storm Ready County, we want to ensure all citizens are aware of the different types of severe weather we face, how to get watch and warning information, and what do to when severe weather threatens.
A watch is issued by the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center when conditions are favorable for the formation of a specific weather phenomenon. Watches could include severe thunderstorms, flash flooding and tornadoes. Watches typically last 6 hours, and include many counties, and even include multiple states.
What to do: This is the appropriate time to review your plan of action, should a warning be issued in the near future. Ensure your shelter/safe place is clear of clutter, and that you are actively monitoring the weather situation. If you don’t have appropriate shelter, consider moving to a more safe location for the duration of the Watch.
A warning is issued by the National Weather Service Forecast Office, which is the local office serving your area (Lee County falls under the Birmingham office). Warnings mean that a particular weather threat is imminent or ongoing. The threat can be identified and/or confirmed by radar, first responders, trained weather spotters or other verifiable/trustworthy means.
What to Do: Take immediate, potentially life-saving action. Depending on the threat, at minimum, you should go inside to a safer location and listen to the local news or NOAA weather radio for more information. For tornado warnings, go to the lowest, most center part of the structure. Do not attempt to drive to another location.