Issued to inform the public whenever severe or hazardous weather is either possible or occurring. The public, unfortunately, is not always informed on what a forecast means.

When I was younger, I could never discern between a watch and a warning. So, I've compiled a list of watches, warnings and advisories issued by the National Weather Service to warn people or stormy or shitty weather:

Wind advisory
High wind warning
Wind chill advisory
Flash-flood watch
Flash-flood warning
Severe thunderstorm watch
Severe thunderstorm warning
Tornado Watch
Tornado Warning
Snow Advisory
Winter storm warning
Blizzard Warning
Dense fog advisory

Warnings over the water:
Small craft advisory
Storm warning
Hurricane watch
Hurricane warning

Information gathered from Essentials of Meteorology by C. Donald Abrams
A joint resolution of Congress signed by Ulysses S. Grant on Feb 9, 1870 authorized the Secretary of War "to provide for taking meteorological observations at the military stations in the interior of the continent and at other points in the States and Territories...and for giving notice on the northern (Great) Lakes and on the seacoast by magnetic telegraph and marine signals, of the approach and force of storms." This resolution is the start of what we know of today as the National Weather Service.

According the their mission statement, the National Weather Service provides weather, hydrologic, and climate forecasts and warnings for the United States, its territories, adjacent waters and ocean areas, for the protection of life and property and the enhancement of the national economy. The National Weather Service is the organization that monitors weather conditions and issues all warnings and watches in case of severe and life-threatening weather.

While the prediction of weather is not an exact science and many predictions turn out to be erroneous, the National Weather Service usually errs on the side of caution and is responsible for saving many lives from weather-related death and injuries.

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