Severe Weather Awareness Week

Alerts and Warnings

We are fortunate to live in an age and country where our technology can now communicate with us almost anywhere and give us advanced warnings of impending hazards or other important information.

Knowing where and how you can receive the warnings and what to do when you get them can mean the difference between life and death.

Along with all the technology we have available to us these days, it however is very important to know the difference between alerts and warnings.

The National Weather Service uses the words “advisory”, “watch” and “warning” to alert you of potentially dangerous weather. Understanding these terms and knowing how to react can be a lifesaver.


An advisory is issued when hazardous weather or hydrologic event is occurring, imminent or likely. Advisories are for less serious conditions than warnings that cause significant inconvenience and if caution is not exercised, could lead to situations that may threaten life or property.


A watch means weather conditions are favorable for dangerous weather to occur. In other words, a “watch” means watch out for what the weather could do, and be ready to act accordingly. You may wish to alter or have a backup plan for any outdoor activities or travel.

For events that come and go quickly, such as severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, or flash floods, a watch means that the odds are good for the dangerous weather, but it not yet happening.

When a severe thunderstorm, tornado, or flash flood watch is in effect, it means you should look for signs of dangerous weather and maintain access to the latest information. Sometimes a severe thunderstorm, tornado, or flash flood can happen so quickly that warnings can’t be issued in time.

For longer-lived events, such as floods or winter storms, a watch means that the event isn’t an immediate threat. For either kind of event, a watch means you should keep up with the weather news and be ready to act.


For severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, and flash floods, a warning means the weather event is imminent or occurring somewhere in the defined warning area and that people need to take shelter as soon as possible.

Sirens normally give outdoor tornado warnings.

People indoors should listen to weather apps, radio, TV, or Weather Radio warnings to find out the latest information. Depending on local policy, other types of weather warnings may also broadcast via sirens. Check with local emergency management officials to learn about local siren activations.

Friendly reminder – on Thursday there will be a statewide tornado drill!

Be aware and be safe Minneapolis!


 ~ the people ~ the equipment ~ the expertise ~