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Severe Storm Terms to Know
Terms to Know

Tornado

A violently rotating column of air, usually pendant to a cumulonimbus, with circulation reaching the ground. It nearly always starts as a funnel cloud and may be accompanied by a loud roaring noise. On a local scale, it is the most destructive of all atmospheric phenomena.

Severe Thunderstorm
A thunderstorm that produces a tornado, winds of at least 58 mph (50 knots), and/or hail at least 1 inch in diameter. Structural wind damage may imply the occurrence of a severe thunderstorm.

Flash Flood
A flood which is caused by heavy or excessive rainfall in a short period of time, generally less than 6 hours. Also, at times a dam failure can cause a flash flood, depending on the type of dam and time period during which the break occurs.

Tornado Watch
Tornadoes are possible in your area. Remain alert for approaching storms. Know what counties or parishes are in the watch area by listening to NOAA Weather Radio or your local radio/television outlets.

Severe Thunderstorm Watch
Tells you when and where severe thunderstorms are likely to occur. Watch the sky and stay tuned to know when warnings are issued.

Flash Flood Watch
Issued to indicate current or developing hydrologic conditions that are favorable for flash flooding in and close to the watch area, but the occurrence is neither certain or imminent.

Tornado Warning
A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar.

Severe Thunderstorm Warning
Issued when severe weather has been reported by spotters or indicated by radar. Warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property to those in the path of the storm.

Flash Flood Warning
Issued to inform the public, emergency management, and other cooperating agencies that flash flooding is in progress, imminent, or highly likely.