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Definitions of Weather Watches and Warnings

Environment Canada issues many different types of watches/warnings for adverse weather conditions.  Below is a basic explanation of these although in fall and spring combinations of all can occur.

General Watches & Warnings

Weather Watch: Conditions favourable for development of severe weather in watch area during posted time frame.   Keep your eyes and ears open for changes.
Weather Warning: Severe weather is occurring or will be occurring in the near future. Motion, direction, duration & composition are given for specific events.  Listen to weather statements and be prepared to take cover.
Weather Advisory: Actual/expected conditions may  cause concern but not serious enough to post warning at this time.
Special Weather Statement: The least urgent type of alert and are issued to let people know that conditions are unusual and could cause concern.

Watches/Warnings for Winter

Frost Warning: When temps forecast to fall near or below freezing during growing season.
Freezing Rain Warning: Extended periods of freezing rain are expected that can damage trees, overhead wires and cause hazardous driving conditions.
Heavy Snow Warning: Expect 15cm or more in 12 hours or less.
Snowsquall Warning: Local snowsqualls producing large amounts (+10cms or more) in traditional snowbelt areas.
Blizzard Warning: Snow or blowing snow, with severe wind-chill and reduced visibility(>1km) for 4+hrs.
Winter Storm Warning: When 2 or more winter warning conditions met (eg: wind + snow)
Wind-Chill Warning: Very cold with windy conditions creating hazardous outdoor temperatures.
Cold Wave Advisory: Temperatures to drop more than 20C within 18hrs.
Flash Freeze Warning: When forecast conditions will likely produce rapid ice formation on road surfaces (rapid temp drop and significant precipitation prior and during event).
Blowing Snow Warning: Extensive reduced visibilities in blowing snow with whiteout conditions expected in many areas.

Watches/Warnings for Summer

Severe Thunderstorm Watch: Favourable conditions for severe thunderstorms with large hail, heavy rain, intense lightning or damaging winds.
Severe Thunderstorm Warning: Developed storm is producing some or all of watch conditions above.  Tornadoes may also be produced in severe thunderstorm environment.
Tornado Watch: Favourable conditions for development of tornadoes
Tornado Warning: One or more tornadoes are on the ground, forming or detected on radar.  Listen to weather statements and take cover in lowest point of house or if outside, ditches/culverts if in the path.
Heavy Rain Warning: When rainfall can cause flooding. Expect 50mm over 12hrs or 80mm in less than 24 hrs.
Wind Warning: Steady winds at/above 60km/h or gusting to 90km/h or more for 1 hour or more.
Dust Storm Advisory: Mainly prairies where dust and high winds reduce visibility to <1km.



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