South Shore Breaker
What's the difference between a watch and warning?
When significant weather strikes, it’s not uncommon for a watch or warning to be issued. But have you ever wondered what the difference between a watch and a warning is?
A watch can be viewed as a heads up for potentially significant or severe weather and is typically issued at least 36 hours ahead of significant or severe weather. In some cases, a watch may be issued just hours ahead of time, such as during severe thunderstorms.
On the other hand, a warning is issued when significant
or severe weather is imminent or occurring.
There are a wide range of weather-related warnings and certain criteria must be met for one to be issued. Those
criteria depend on the type or severity of the weather, where you are in the country, the amount of precipitation or wind and what season we’re in.
There are also localized weather warnings. Weather advisories can also be issued if something doesn’t quite meet a watch or warning criteria, such as frost and fog advisories. The all-too-common special weather statement is another weather alert we’re familiar with. It’s not a watch or a warning but more of a heads up days ahead of a weather system that something significant could be on the horizon and the public should stay tuned for updates.
It’s important to remember while forecasters can advise you of this weather, official weather watches and warnings can only be issued by Environment Canada. It’s always important to pay attention to these alerts, especially when it comes to severe weather.