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Let’s “taco-bout” the difference between a watch and warning

todayMarch 3, 2024 3

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Throughout the different seasons, you usually hear of watches and warnings being issued by the National Weather Service. High wind warnings, severe thunderstorm watches, and winter weather advisories are just a few examples that Rochester may be particularly used to. But what exactly is the difference between a watch and a warning? Let’s break down the details of both.

A watch will be issued when there is a risk of hazardous weather. The conditions are favorable for severe weather to occur but is not actively happening. Watches are issued to allow people to prepare in the event that there is severe weather. A watch can be issued for 4 to 8 hours, giving people time to prepare accordingly. It is important to continuously check weather forecasts because, at any moment, a warning can be issued. Now, a warning is issued when hazardous weather is happening or about to move into your area. When a warning is issued, it means that there is an imminent threat to your safety and you should take action immediately.

It can be confusing to remember the difference between a watch and a warning. However, there have been ways to help individuals easily remember the difference. Below, illustrated by the Committee of Science, Space, and Technology, is one way to remember the difference:

The Committee on Science, Space and Technology / X

When thinking about watches and warnings, think taco! The basic concept of thinking about tacos when a watch/warning is issued is:

“Taco” watch: The ingredients are in place to make tacos, but have not been made yet.

“Taco” warning: The tacos are ready to eat now!

The ingredients refer to the conditions being favorable for severe weather, but not all put together. When the taco is assembled, it refers to the conditions lining up for severe weather to occur.

​ ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Throughout the different seasons, you usually hear of watches and warnings being issued by the National Weather Service. High wind warnings, severe thunderstorm watches, and winter weather advisories are just a few examples that Rochester may be particularly used to. But what exactly is the difference between a watch and a warning? Let’s break down the details of both.

A watch will be issued when there is a risk of hazardous weather. The conditions are favorable for severe weather to occur but is not actively happening. Watches are issued to allow people to prepare in the event that there is severe weather. A watch can be issued for 4 to 8 hours, giving people time to prepare accordingly. It is important to continuously check weather forecasts because, at any moment, a warning can be issued. Now, a warning is issued when hazardous weather is happening or about to move into your area. When a warning is issued, it means that there is an imminent threat to your safety and you should take action immediately.

It can be confusing to remember the difference between a watch and a warning. However, there have been ways to help individuals easily remember the difference. Below, illustrated by the Committee of Science, Space, and Technology, is one way to remember the difference:

The Committee on Science, Space and Technology / X

When thinking about watches and warnings, think taco! The basic concept of thinking about tacos when a watch/warning is issued is:

“Taco” watch: The ingredients are in place to make tacos, but have not been made yet.

“Taco” warning: The tacos are ready to eat now!

The ingredients refer to the conditions being favorable for severe weather, but not all put together. When the taco is assembled, it refers to the conditions lining up for severe weather to occur. Read More WeatherRochesterFirst  

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