Difference Between Weather Advisory and Watch

Weather Advisory vs Watch

Among many of the terms used by meteorologist at NWS, the difference between weather advisory and watch confuses the general public. It is the endeavor of National Weather Service (NWS) to keep the people of the country armed with weather conditions so as to prevent inconveniences to them and also to protect the loss of life and property. This service issues advisories, warnings, and watches to alert people about imminent or likely to take place weather conditions. This allows people to plan their activities accordingly and also to take precautionary measures to protect their lives and property. However, as mentioned earlier, there are many people who remain confused between weather advisory and a weather watch. This article aims to make a clear difference between weather advisory and weather watch, the terms  that are frequently used by meteorologists at NWS.

What is a Weather Advisory?

Weather advisories are issued by NWS to keep people abreast with weather conditions if there is likely to be a change that can have an adverse impact or cause inconvenience to them. These advisories are informative in nature and give people time to prepare for a weather condition that can have a modest impact on their lives. An advisory is for a weather condition that is not severe or life threatening. You will want to take into account a weather advisory issued by NWS if you are planning to go out in the next 24 hours. Best examples of advisories are related with snow, fog, rain, etc. You can take appropriate changes in your schedule after listening or watching these advisories on radio or television. You ought to exercise caution to avoid inconvenience because of a hazardous weather condition when you hear snow or thunderstorm advisory in your area.

Difference Between Weather Advisory and Watch

What is a Weather Watch?

Watch is the term used by meteorologists at NWS when a particular weather condition is likely to take place over an area. However, a watch is uncertain in terms of location and timing. The main purpose of a Watch is to give enough lead time to those living in the area so that they can make changes in their plans. A Watch merely expresses the possibility of a particular weather condition that may be hazardous. If a thunderstorm is likely over an area, a Watch is issued first to enable people to make preparations to remain safe. It sounds alert about a bad weather condition that allows people to avoid traveling or indulging in outdoor activities. Watch tells the people that the likelihood of a particular weather condition over an area has increased and it may occur in a short period.

What is the difference between Weather Advisory and Watch?

• An advisory is an informative statement from NWS about a particular weather condition whereas Watch tells you that chances of a bad weather condition over an area have increased and it is likely to occur.

• Advisory is what you would like to take into account when making plans for travel or an outdoor activity whereas Watch is a degree higher as it sounds alert about the increased likelihood of a bad weather condition.

• Advisory is issued for weather conditions that are not very severe whereas Watch has the potential to lead to hazardous weather conditions.


Images Courtesy:

  1. Fog by Tom Harpel from Seattle, Washington, United States (CC BY 2.0)