Published: Wednesday, April 04, 2001
Understanding severe weather definitions and terminology can save your life, said Ed Calianese, warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service's Lubbock office.
"People need to understand what we are talking about when we issue a watch or warning," he said.
Calianese offered the following glossary of terms often used during outbreaks of severe weather:
Watch - Conditions are favorable for the severe weather event in or near a watch area. The weather service issues watches for severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, flash floods and river flooding.
Warning - A severe weather event is imminent or occurring in a warned area. The weather service issues warnings for severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, flash floods and river flooding.
Severe Thunderstorm - A storm that produces hail that is at least three-quarter of an inch in diameter or wind gusts of 58 mph or greater.
Tornado - A violently rotating column of air attached to a thunderstorm and in contact with the ground.
Funnel Cloud - A rotating, funnel-shaped cloud extending downward from a thunderstorm. A funnel cloud becomes a tornado when it connects to the ground.
Downburst - A strong downdraft that has an outrush or damaging wind on or near the ground.
Flash Flood - A rapid rise in water, usually within 12 hours of a heavy rain.