LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Las Vegas residents hear it every year, especially as we enter the summer months. Heat watches, heat warnings and heat advisories frequently go into effect.
But what is the difference between them and what temperatures or conditions are required for them to go into effect?
Meteorologist Dani Beckstrom says it's all about timing and it helps to think of baking a cupcake.
WEATHER WATCH VS. WARNING
A weather watch means that there is the risk for a hazardous weather event but timing and/or location are still uncertain. Its purpose is to give people enough lead time to prepare for the potential for hazardous weather but recognizes that the hazardous weather is not occurring at the time.
A warning upgrade means the hazardous weather is imminent or actively occurring and warnings are generally issued for weather events that pose a threat to life or property.
EASY WAY TO REMEMBER: THINK CUPCAKES
A simple way to think of it is a cupcake watch is when you have all the ingredients to make cupcakes out on the kitchen counter but haven't mixed them in a bowl yet. A cupcake warning means the cupcakes are coming out of the oven!
Advisories mean hazardous weather is occurring or imminent, but the hazard itself is less serious than in a warned event. An advisory still means some sort of caution should be taken, but the threat to life or property isn't as high.
WHO ISSUES THEM?
The local National Weather Service office issues the official watches and warnings and they look at specific heat-related risk factors such as time of year, high and low temperatures, and duration of the heat event. A breakdown of heat risk can be found at wrh.noaa.gov.
Generally speaking, the NWS issues a Heat Advisory for a Level 2 Heat Risk and an Excessive Heat Watch for Warning for Level 3 and 4.
It is difficult to give an exact degree threshold because the time of year does factor into their decision to issue an Advisory/Watch/Warning. What feels hot to our bodies in early June might not be as intense in late July because we've had more time to acclimate to the heat.
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