WEST VIRGINIA (WVNS-TV) — It’s ‘Severe Weather Awareness Week’ in West Virginia, Virginia, and the StormTracker 59 WeatherLab. The StormTracker 59 team has the information that you need to know to stay safe before, during, and after severe weather strikes in your town all week long.

The first day of this week is arguably one of the most important. Understanding the difference between a Watch, a Warning, or an Advisory being issued for your area in some situations can mean the difference between life and death.

Let’s start with a watch, lets say you’re getting ready to bake a cake. You have all the ingredients out on the counter but they aren’t put together just yet. That’s the basic premise of a watch. We have all the ingredients for severe weather around the region, but they haven’t come together to actually make severe weather just yet. During this time, you should be preparing for the threat of severe weather. For example, making sure your emergency kits are stocked and reviewing your family’s plan for what to do in the event of severe weather.

Continuing our example from earlier, a warning means that all the ingredients have come together and the oven has just beeped that it’s pre-heated. At this point, it’s time to act. When a warning is issued it means impactful and likely severe weather is imminent. You should head indoors or find appropriate shelter and begin to enact your family’s severe weather plan.

Now, an advisory means you still need to act as when one is issued impactful, but not always severe, weather is on the way. It’s still recommended that you seek shelter when one issued as damage can still occur despite not meeting the criteria for a warning.

Knowing all of this won’t help you if you don’t have a way to get these watches, warnings, and advisories. The StormTracker 59 team recommends having at least two ways to get weather alerts. Our personal favorite ways are through the StormTracker 59 app which is available on Google Play and the App Store for FREE.

StormTracker 59 App

We also recommend having a NOAA Weather Radio in your household, either battery or crank-powered in case you lose power. These radios are specifically designed to tune into the nationwide network of radio stations that are continually broadcasting critical weather information from your local National Weather Service office.