National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Watch, Warning, and Advisory Definitions

Basic Definitions:

The National Weather Service issues a variety of products to keep our customers informed of unusual, inconvenient and hazardous weather conditions. A multi-tier concept is employed to accomplish this task with Outlooks, Watches, Warnings and Advisories to point out specific conditions.

Outlook:
Used to give considerable lead time that a hazardous event may develop.
Watch:
Issued when the risk of a hazardous weather or hydrologic event has increased significantly, but its occurrence, location, and/or timing is still uncertain. It is intended to provide enough lead time so those who need to set their plans in motion can do so.
Warning:
Issued when a hazardous event is occurring or has a very high probability of occurrence. Warnings advise of a threat to life or property.
Advisory:
Issued when a hazardous event is occurring or has a very high probability of occurrence. Advisories describe events that cause significant inconvenience.