Fire, Rescue and Emergency Services
Contact Us

Joseph F. Williams

John G. Jordan Sr.

Edward C. Schneyer
Director of the Office of Emergency Management
PO BOX 127
MAIN 631-852-4900
FAX 631-852-4922

Severe Storm Preparedness

Graphic of a lightning bolt against a night sky

The National Weather service in partnership with the Suffolk County Office of Emergency Management is promoting severe weather safety for all people.

Over the last 20 years...severe weather has killed over 100 people in New York alone...and has caused over three quarters of a billion dollars in damage. On average...the National Weather Service issues 400 Severe Thunderstorm Warnings...17 Tornado Warnings and about 150 Flash Flood Warnings each year in New York State. To reduce your chances of being killed or injured by severe is important to understand the meaning of Severe Weather Watches and Warnings.

Understanding the difference between National Weather Service watches and warnings is critical to being prepared for any dangerous weather hazard.

A watch lets you know that weather conditions are favorable for a hazard to occur. It literally means "be on guard!" During a weather watch, gather awareness of the specific threat and prepare for action - monitor the weather to find out if severe weather conditions have deteriorated and discuss your protective action plans with your family.

A warning requires immediate action. This means a weather hazard is imminent - it is either occurring (a tornado has been spotted, for example) - or it is about to occur at any moment. During a weather warning, it is important to take action: grab the emergency kit you have prepared in advance and head to safety immediately. Both watches and warnings are important, but warnings are more urgent.

Severe thunderstorms produce winds of at least 58 mph and or hail of at least one inch in diameter. A Severe Thunderstorm Watch means that severe thunderstorms are possible within the next few hours...typically less than six hours. You should continue with your daily routine...but be prepared to move to a place of safety should a severe thunderstorm warning be issued.

 A Severe Thunderstorm Warning means that severe thunderstorms are imminent or occurring. A Warning implies a significant threat to life and property. You should seek shelter immediately when a Severe Thunderstorm Warning is issued. Our goal is to correctly forecast at least 80 percent of all Severe Thunderstorms with an average lead time of at least 16 Minutes.

Tornadoes are violently rotating columns of air in contact with the ground and attached to the cloud base above. Like a severe thunderstorm watch...a Tornado Watch means that tornadoes are possible over the next few hours...again usually less than six hours. A Tornado Warning means that a tornado is imminent or occurring. A tornado warning implies an immediate threat to life and Property. Take shelter immediately.

Flash flooding is a rapid rise...within six hours...of water along a Stream or low lying urban area. The most common cause of flash flooding is downpours associated with thunderstorms. A Flash Flood Watch means that conditions are favorable for flash flooding. Continue with your daily activities...but be prepared to head to a place of safety should a flash flood warning be issued. A flash flood Warning means that flooding is imminent or occurring. Flood waters can rise rapidly. Seek shelter immediately when a Flash Flood Warning is issued. Our goal is to correctly forecast 90 percent of
All flash floods with an average lead time of 50 minutes.

NOAA Weather Radio all hazards offers the best way to stay in touch
With weather conditions whether at or play. It provides
Continuous broadcasts of weather information...with immediate relay of any severe weather warnings. NOAA`s national weather service recommends everyone have access to a NOAA weather radio

Learn about Severe Weather Hazards and How to Prepare

More Ways To Be Informed:
Download the National Weather Service Owlie Skywarn Brochure


Click here to view the transcript of the Weather Alerts video above

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