The mission of your National Weather Service is to protect life and property.  In support of that mission, the National Weather Service in Birmingham issues a number of watches, warnings, and statements to the public.  These products are the most "visible" of those issued by the National Weather Service.


· Hazardous Weather Outlook (HWO)

Graphical Version

The "Hazardous Weather Outlook" is a discussion, primarily for emergency managers and NWS storm spotters, of expected hazardous weather during the next seven days, with special emphasis placed on the first day. The Outlook is issued three times daily, at 6:30am, between 1 and 1:30pm and between 8 and 9pm.


· Tornado Watch (from SPC)

 

A "Tornado Watch" means that conditions are favorable for the formation of tornadoes and severe thunderstorms in and close to the watch area.  Persons in the watch area can continue with their day-to-day activities, but should keep an eye to the sky for threatening weather.  If threatening weather does approach, tune to NOAA Weather Radio, or local broadcast media, to keep abreast of the changing weather situation.  Watches usually last about 6 hours and cover areas of about 25,000 square miles each, and are issued by the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, OK.

The local NWS office issues a county list of counties included in each watch.  See "Special Weather Statement " below.


· Tornado Warning (TOR)

 

A "Tornado Warning" is issued when a tornado is detected on radar or a reliable report of a tornado is received.  Persons in the warning area should take immediate action to protect their lives and the lives of others.  Warnings are issued by county and usually last for less than one hour. 


· Severe Thunderstorm Watch (from SPC)

 

A "Severe Thunderstorm Watch" means that conditions are favorable for the formation of severe thunderstorms in and close to the watch area.  Severe thunderstorms produce winds in excess of 58 mph (50 knots) and/or hail 1 inch or larger (as of Jan 1, 2010).  Persons in the watch area can continue with their day-to-day activities, but should keep an eye to the sky for threatening weather.  If threatening weather does approach, tune to NOAA Weather Radio, or local broadcast media, to keep abreast of the changing weather situation.  Watches usually last about 6 hours and cover areas of about 25,000 square miles each, and are issued by the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, OK.

The local NWS office issues a county list of counties included in each watch.  See "Special Weather Statement " below.


· Severe Thunderstorm Warning (SVR)

 What Constitutes a Severe Thunderstorm Warning?

A "Severe Thunderstorm Warning" is issued when a severe thunderstorm is detected on radar or a reliable report of severe thunderstorm activity is received.  Severe thunderstorms produce winds in excess of 58 mph (50 knots) and/or hail 1 inch or larger.   Tornadoes can and occasionally do accompany severe thunderstorms.  Persons in the warning area should take immediate action to protect their lives and the lives of others.  Warnings are issued by county and usually last for less than one hour. 


· Severe Weather Statement (SVS)

 

The "Severe Weather Statement" is used to keep a Severe Thunderstorm Warning or Tornado Warning up-to-date.  This product will keep the public informed of a severe thunderstorm or tornado; where it is located, and if there has been any severe weather reported to the National Weather Service.  Most warnings issued by the NWS have at least one Severe Weather Statement issued to follow up on them.  This product is also used to cancel warnings when severe weather has moved out of the warned area.  


· Special Weather Statement (SPS)

Severe Thunderstorms Warning vs Significant Weather Advisory

A "Special Weather Statement" is issued to keep the public and media abreast of weather situations that are significant, but not thought to be life-threatening.  It can also be used to declare which counties are in a Severe Thunderstorm Watch or Tornado Watch, or to clear counties from a Severe Thunderstorm Watch or Tornado Watch.  Finally, it may also be used to inform the public of an interesting or unusual weather phenomena.  (Sometimes, the most recent version of this product will be a Significant Weather Alert, which is also issued under the same header.)


· Local Storm Report (LSR)

 

A "Local Storm Report" is issued by the National Weather Service after a severe weather episode.  It details the severe weather reports received by the NWS.  It states when the severe weather occurred, where it occurred, and what the event was.  This report may include reports of tornadoes, large hail, damaging winds, or flooding.  Fatalities and/or injuries may be included if they can be confirmed by emergency management or law enforcement officials.



USA.gov is the U.S. government's official web portal to all federal, state and local government web resources and services.