Joe’s Weather Blog: The difference between a watch and a warning (FRI-4/20)

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

Good morning…we had a nice Thursday in the area and after a cool start this morning…we should warm back up into the 60s this afternoon. It will be another day of below average temperatures…and another cool weekend, but next week does show promise for more consistent spring weather around these parts. The weekend though will be a mixed bad with some showers in the are on Saturday and Sunday morning, then improving conditions in the afternoon especially.


Today: Variable clouds and overall OK. Highs in the 60s

Tonight: Mostly cloudy but dry overall…then towards 2AM or so there may be some showers moving into the area from the west. Most of whatever falls looks pretty light. Lows in the 40s

Saturday: It may not rain all day but again the threat of showers will be around the area. Highs in the 50s (cooler where there is some rain)

Sunday: Clouds may be an issue for awhile then some thin spots in the afternoon. Highs in the 50s


We’re 11.5° below average this month…we’ve had 3 days of above average temperatures and 1 day of average temperatures (high + low/2). It’s not been pleasant as we all know. The thing is as we get farther into April…the averages really go up. Today the average high is 67° and the average low is 46°. We won’t get to either. We won’t see that this weekend either…so more below average days are coming.

As I talked about yesterday some much needed moisture is coming for parts of the Plains and southern Plains that haven’t seen decent moisture in weeks.

Here is a look at regional radar…

The Texas Panhandle amounts may be a bit varied…but hopefully some good rains come for central and western KS.

For the KC area…we’re probably not going to get much from this. The upper level storm coming out across CO will be weakening as it moves into the Plains…as it does so…some rather weak areas of lift will be spinning around the system and it’s possible one or two will have an affect on our weather. The thing is, none of them look overly strong and the weak spokes spinning around will be encountering a lot of dry air for awhile…so it’s a matter of when we can saturate the atmosphere and get something to reach the ground.

That’s why I’m not promising a perfectly dry weekend. It may not rain all weekend…but at least there may be some showers for awhile.

It also appears that there won’t be a lot of severe weather for quite some time in the Plains states. There has not been 1 tornado in OK so far this year. This is unusual! It’s happened before a couple of times…but the record for the latest 1st tornado is 4/26 in 1962…and right now I just don’t see any favorable set-ups for OK. The record for the least number of tornadoes in April for OK is 2 in 1998.

Last week at this time we were talking about our 1st severe weather set-up. I wrote a lot about the risk categories assigned to severe weather forecasting ahead of the situation developing.

Today I wanted to write about the terms we use when we expect severe weather and when severe weather is happening. That would be a WATCH and a WARNING.

When a WATCH is issued, whether it be a flood watch…tornado watch…severe thunderstorm watch…it means that ingredients to create that type of weather are going to be coming together over a specific time period and that type of weather is POSSIBLE. You just need to be weather aware for that particular time period, especially when it comes to tornado watches and severe thunderstorm watches.

When a WARNING is issued…that means that something has been spotted or indicated on radar. For example larger hail (1″=quarters or higher), a tornado,, gusty winds (58 MPH or higher), a funnel cloud, some damage from wind, or even, depending on the situation a rotating wall cloud (that sometimes is a step towards tornado formation. A WARNING means I want you to take action. Get into your safe place…get away from windows…if it’s a tornado WARNING head to the lowest level of your home or perhaps be safe in a bathroom.

If all that is still confusing…one of my colleagues from North Carolina set out something more simplistic…and it summed things up nicely.

Makes sense right?

Tangent: As you know I’ve been preaching about my perception of the “overuse” of severe thunderstorm warnings…in terms of how people no longer react to this particular warning product.

I recently did a podcast with the folks at “WeatherHype” about my thoughts…it’s about 45 minutes long but some of you might be interested in it.

Finally our feature photo comes from Courtney Williamson‎ towards De Soto, KS




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

1 Comment

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.