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As the season for storms rapidly approaches, it seems like a good time to clarify the terms for different warnings. Just what is an advisory, watch, or warning? Which is more severe and requires immediate action and which requires a person to just pay a little more attention to the weather? Everyone has heard these terms, but not every term is applied to every type of weather. There are no fire weather advisories; just watches and warnings. Some advisories, watches, and warnings vary by location. For example, wind chill warnings may be issued at higher temperatures in states that do not often have wind chill concerns and be issued at lower temperatures in areas used to more cold. Global warming and climate change may introduce some of these hazards into areas that until now had no experience with them.

Thunderstorms have a separate scale beyond watches and warnings because severe thunderstorms can lead to tornadoes and derechos. The scale for thunderstorms is in a separate section of text below.

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