Watches vs. warnings: Knowing the difference is sweet

RAPID CITY, S.D. — Spring and summer can bring a bombardment of information about the changing weather and knowing how to differentiate that information is key to staying safe.

Watches and warnings indicate two different things.

A watch means the ingredients are available and ready.


Cupcake watch: Ingredients are sitting, ready to go but pose no threats individually.

A warning means those ingredients have come together and the scenario is playing out.


Cupcake warning: Ingredients have come together and a cupcake is occurring. 

Knowing the difference is only one part of safety. The other piece is actually taking action because living by ‘this will never happen to me’, is not a safe bet.

“If you continue to live by that somewhat dangerous strategy, it could come back to bite you,” said Matthew Bunkers, meteorologist at the National Weather Service. “It’s good to heed those warnings and maybe you’re not in jeopardy but maybe a neighbor or a friend is, so you can let other people know about that.”

South Dakota can put that knowledge into action today during the statewide tornado drill. A test watch is scheduled for 9 a.m. MT and a test warning at 9:15 a.m. MT.

Sirens are expected to sound so just know, it’s only a drill.

“Simulating the tornado drill is important so people can test their radios and sirens,” said Bunkers. “People can test the safety procedures that people have and remind them that yes, we are coming up on severe season. Winter, we hope, is over and so people need to be ready for hail, tornadoes, high winds, and flooding.”

More information on keeping your family safe during severe weather can be found here.

Categories: Local News, South Dakota News