(WFRV) – The threat of severe weather increases the chances of watches and warnings being issued by the National Weather Service. As Severe Weather Awareness Week continues in Wisconsin, we discuss the crucial difference between the two.

Most think of severe weather and immediately think of the worst, which would be tornadoes.

A tornado watch means conditions are favorable for a tornado to form. This type of watch is issued for multiple counties and states hours in advance of the event. Know where to go in case a warning is issued for your area.

A tornado warning for your area means you need to take shelter now. A tornado has been spotted or is likely. A tornado warning usually is in effect for a short period covering a small area.

Under a severe thunderstorm watch, there is the potential for a severe thunderstorm to move in. The time period is similar to a tornado watch, it is issued multiple hours in advance and lasting about 6 hours.

A severe thunderstorm warning means a severe thunderstorm is likely happening or being reported. This type of storm could produce over 58 mph wind gusts or at least 1” sized hail.

Severe weather watches are not to be confused with winter weather watches. Winter watches are typically issued 1 to 3 days out. A severe weather watch is only issued hours in advance of an event.

Overall the best type of advice is to have a plan when any type of watch is issued for your area. That way you aren’t caught of guard when any type of warning is put into place.