Gov. Kay Ivey has declared Feb. 16-Feb. 23 as Severe Weather Awareness Week in Alabama. Severe weather happens at any time of year, but spring and fall are hotbeds of activity. 

Severe thunderstorms are categorized as a storm that produces quarter-sized hail (1-inch diameter) or larger, winds of 58 mph or greater or a tornado.

The National Weather Service issues severe thunderstorm warnings if large hail or damaging winds are reported. If a tornado is spotted, they issue a tornado warning. A severe thunderstorm warning may also be issued if there are indications of these threats on radar without any spotter reports.

A severe thunderstorm watch is issued by the Storm Prediction Center when conditions are favorable for severe storms to occur. Typically, a watch is issued a few hours before a severe storm enters an area or develops.

These warnings are key to ensure the public knows about potential severe weather, but they don’t necessarily mean damage or large hail will affect your area.

One common myth regarding thunderstorms: lightning is considered “severe.” But there’s no correlation between storms producing lightning and a severe storm.

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