WASHINGTON — Imagine it's storming outside.  You look out of your window and see it pouring.  A small tree has lost a few branches and your trash can has blown down the street.  Is this a severe storm?  It depends.  

The term "severe storm" is easily tossed around, but there are certain conditions that must be met.  

Severe Storm Criteria:

Severe Thunderstorm Criteria
Severe Thunderstorm Criteria
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The storm must produce at least one of the following:

* Wind gust of 58 mph or stronger
* Hail 1" or larger
* A tornado

Heavy rain and vivid lightning are NOT severe weather indicators. A storm can have torrential rain and dangerous cloud-to-ground lightning, but that does not make it a severe storm. But any storm that produces lightning has the potential to be deadly.  There is no safe place outdoors when there is lightning.

Watch vs Warning 

A severe thunderstorm watch means that severe storms are possible.  A severe thunderstorm warning means a severe storm is happening or will happen soon.

Watch vs Warning
Watch vs Warning
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This is good information to keep handy, especially as April 7-13, 2019 is Severe Weather Awareness Week in Maryland.   On Wednesday, April 10, the National Weather Service will conduct a tornado drill.  At 9:45 a.m. Wednesday, NWS officials will send out a tornado drill statement over NOAA Weather Radio. 

It will not send a tone alert to weather radio, broadcast media, or phones in Maryland, but residents are encouraged to activate their tornado safety plan.