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:
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.
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.