Difference Between Thunderstorm Watch and Thunderstorm Warning

A thunderstorm is a weather condition characterized by heavy rain, violent winds, thunder, light, and hail. There are many types of thunderstorms. During thunderstorms,  there can also be a possibility of tornadoes. It can lead you to death. It just destroys everything. It can never be good. It only creates havoc. To prevent all this catastrophe and damage, technology and the human mind created a system of predictions for the upcoming weather.  Thunderstorm watch and Thunderstorm warning are two types of weather alerts by which humans predict the weather. 

Thunderstorm Watch vs Thunderstorm Warning

The main difference between Thunderstorm watch and Thunderstorm warning is that A thunderstorm watch is issued when a thunderstorm is likely to occur, while a thunderstorm warning is issued when the thunderstorm itself can be confirmed and seen. The period of thunderstorm watch is lengthier as compared to a warning. Both concepts have the same purpose but are slightly different from each other. 

Thunderstorm watch vs warning

In Thunderstorm watch, the condition is congenial or expected but not occurring. A thunderstorm watch is an alert that informs the public of imminent danger in their specific area. The watch is meant to be prepared for the upcoming severe weather. It covers a large area or entire state.

In Thunderstorm Warning, the conditions are occurring and out of control. It needs immediate action and should be taken seriously. It is a very sudden kind of alert.  It focuses on small areas. It is not secure in any way. Any carelessness can prove to be dangerous to both life and property.

Comparison Table Between Thunderstorm Watch and Thunderstorm Warning

Parameters of comparisonThunderstorm Watch Thunderstorm Warning
DefinitionIt’s an alert given by the weather forecasting team to the public, so they could prepare themselves in advance for extreme conditionsIt’s a warning issued when a thunderstorm has been seen already and emergency action needs to be taken.
PeriodIt occurs in a lengthier period because it’s has been issued in advanceIt’s for a shorter period as thunderstorms have already hit the land
AreaIt’s issued for larger and wide scope because it’s speculation it could occur shortlyIt’s issued for a smaller and specific locale
Day ActivityPeople can do their day to day activities and are advised to stay in a safe placeA safeguard team would be needed to evacuate the people from the thunderstorm area. 
ProbabilitySometimes thunderstorms watch could be false positive as well Thunderstorms warning is always true positive

What is Thunderstorm Watch?

Thunderstorm watch depicts that to be prepared. A watch means you should be prepared for the possibility of a severe storm. This means that the material is present for the development of severe weather. You should review your safety plan first and know where you will go in case of bad weather. 

 It is directly related to the serious weather condition which is issued by regional offices of the weather forecasting agency. Thunderstorm watch does not mean that the weather is in bad condition, only these conditions present a reliable risk of thunderstorms producing severe weather events that affect parts of the monitoring area.

It monitors the atmospheric condition and gives warnings to the areas which are about to be affected. People can carry on normal activities even when the thunderstorm watch is issued. Here, Thunderstorm Watch covers parts of several states.

Thunderstorm watches are issued when conditions are very favorable for thunderstorms or are likely to occur. Some indicators such as winds approaching 55-60 mph (or the equivalent of 88-96 kph) are likely to cause thunderstorms and cause the setting and release of a thunderstorm watch. A thunderstorm watch covers a large geographical area or even the surrounding area.

What is Thunderstorm Warning?

A thunderstorm warning indicates that the warning area is in imminent danger from hailstorm or wind speed warning criteria as well as lightning and hydrological effects associated with the storm cell. Warning means an action that should be taken seriously.

A thunderstorm warning is an imminent type of alert which requires quick action. A warning means you must act now, because severe weather is occurring, or a tornado has been observed or indicated by radar. This means getting to your safe place immediately, especially if a hurricane warning has been issued. If it’s a thunderstorm warning, move in and away from any windows.

 In this type of precaution, the condition of thunderstorms is already prevailing and there are indications of movement of thunderstorms as well. The storm already exists and is happening. Weather equipment such as radar, satellites, and others may contain a picture or an image of a particular thunderstorm.

 It is also related to the serious weather condition which is issued by regional offices of the weather forecasting agency. A thunderstorm warning is issued when it is indicated by storm management personnel that a thunderstorm is producing large hail and strong winds which is capable of causing significant damage and storm surges and that severe weather may exceed the estimated speed of production. Hope to continue together. 

Main Differences Between Thunderstorm Watch and Thunderstorm Warning

  1. Thunderstorm Watch gives the public information about inclement weather conditions in their specific area so that they can plan and prepare themselves accordingly.
  2. A thunderstorm Warning is an impending type of alert that requires prompt action that must be taken seriously.
  3. Thunderstorm watch is issued when a thunderstorm is not occurring i.e. the condition is favorable and expected. On the other hand, In the Thunderstorm warning, the conditions are out of control i.e. thunderstorm occurring itself and destroying. 
  4. Thunderstorm Watch covers large parts of several states whereas Thunderstorm Warning focuses on small areas. 
  5. Thunderstorm Watch gives people time to prepare while a Thunderstorm Warning doesn’t give people much time to think.


So here we conclude that both are weather system issues. One says to be prepared for the upcoming severe weather while the other requires action which should be taken seriously. One is issued for a larger area while the other covers a smaller area. Both alert programs are issued by various weather stations and news channels to provide the public with information about upcoming severe weather conditions in their specific area. One is the imminent kind of alert while the other one is not. So these preventive alerts allow people to make up their minds, plan, and prepare for upcoming severe thunderstorms.


  1. https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/5469660/
  2. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/1467-7717.00132
  3. http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=
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