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Storm Advisory Terms

Part of the preparation for storm season includes a basic understanding of various terms used by the weather service and subsequently passed on to the public through radio and television. I hope that our readers will find the following guide a useful tool:

Severe Thunderstorm Watch
Severe thunderstorms are possible.
Severe Thunderstorm Warning
Severe Thunderstorms are occurring. Severe Thunderstorms can be characterized by winds of 58 mph or more and / or hail with a diameter of ¾ inch or more.
Tornado Watch
Tornadoes are possible; atmospheric conditions exist for the development of these storms. The watch will usually last several hours and cover all or part of a specific area.
Tornado Warning
A Tornado has been sighted, or severe weather has been reported. Listeners should take cover immediately. Warnings will normally not last more than an hour and cover a limited area.
Tropical Disturbance
An area in the tropics that keeps its identity for 24 hours or more.
Tropical Depression
A complete low pressure circulation with winds up to 38 mph.
Tropical Storm
A low pressure circulation with highest sustained winds of 39 - 73 mph and a warm center.
Tropical Storm Watch
Tropical Storm conditions are possible within 36 hours.
Tropical Storm Warning
Tropical Storm conditions are expected within 24 hours.
Hurricane Watch
A hurricane is possible within 36 hours.
Hurricane Warning
A hurricane is expected within 24 hours. If advised to evacuate, do so immediately.

A hurricane is a pronounced low pressure circulation with highest sustained winds of 74 mph and a warm center. Hurricanes are classified into five categories, based on wind speed, central pressure, and damage potential.

Those categories are:

  1. Category One - Winds 74 - 95 mph,
  2. Category Two - Winds 96 - 110 mph,
  3. Category Three - Winds 111 - 130 mph,
  4. Category Four - Winds 131 - 155 mph,
  5. Category Five - Winds greater than 155 mph.

Understanding what the warnings being issued mean can contribute to you and your family's safety. We hope the preceding information will serve you well.

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Cumberland County, NC.
All Rights Reserved.
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117 Dick Street
Fayetteville, NC 28301