CLEVELAND, Ohio (WJW) – Ohio’s peak tornado season is during the months of April through July, but severe weather can come at any time.

One of the first keys to safety is understanding the terminology and the radar so you can pinpoint the threat level to your neighborhood.


Weather alerts are issued by the National Weather Service (NWS).

The warnings, watches, and advisories in Northeast Ohio come from NWS Cleveland.

The National Weather Service is a federal agency that has a team of people who watch and forecast weather 365 days a year, 24 hours a day.

Only the NWS can issue these alerts, which are used by FOX 8 meteorologists to keep you informed.


This is one of the most important things to know during any weather event.

Think of a weather watch like it sounds: Watch out!

It means the conditions are right for a particular weather event.

If there is a severe thunderstorm watch, that means our FOX 8 meteorologists are watching to see if those conditions come together to create a severe storm.

If they do, that’s when the warning is issued.

A severe storm warning means the weather is here and happening now.



A watch is when to be prepared.

A warning means to act.

An advisory may also be issued.

That typically comes further ahead of a particular weather event, so people become aware and make sure they have a plan.

A severe weather preparedness plan is important for every household.


It’s a matter of knowing where to go for safety and when to do it.

During a Tornado Warning, the National Weather Service acronym is DUCK.

D – Down to the lowest level

U – Under something sturdy, stay away from windows

C – Cover your head and get as close as you can to the center of the house.

K – Keep in shelter until the threat has passed

Severe weather can happen at any hour, but frequently it comes in the afternoon, which may mean kids are home alone, so it’s important that they know what to do if no adult is present.

For those who don’t have basements, bathrooms or closets are often at the center of the home. Mattresses are often used then for cover.

During severe weather events, you can often lose power.

Know where your flashlights are and make sure you have batteries to prepare.


Often times tornadoes are not confirmed until the NWS gets on the ground after the storm to assess the damage.

Here’s what you want to listen for during a weather event:

  • Radar indicated – This means the radar is detecting rotation within a thunderstorm.
  • Radar confirmed – This means the radar is detecting actual debris lifted.
  • Spotter confirmed – A trained weather spotter has seen and confirmed a tornado.


Northeast Ohio gets a fair amount of flooding throughout the year.

It can turn from a rain event to a flooding event in an extremely short amount of time.  

When it does, our law enforcement officers and rescue teams are swamped with calls from people who have driven into high water and need rescue.  

Cleveland, October 2020

The National Weather Service says more deaths occur each year due to flooding than severe thunderstorm-related events, and that half of those deaths come from flooded vehicles.

Water is a powerful force and can sweep a car off the road in seconds.

Never drive around barriers or drive into water that you don’t know how deep it is.

The phrase “Turn Around, Don’t Drown,” is exactly what it sounds like.

When you see high water, turn around and don’t drive through it.

What is the difference between a Flood Watch and a Flood Warning?

  • Flash Flood Warning: Take Action! A Flash Flood Warning is issued when a flash flood is imminent or occurring.
  • Flood Warning: Take Action! A Flood Warning is issued when a hazardous weather event is imminent or already happening.
  • Flood Watch: Be Prepared: A Flood Watch is issued when conditions are favorable for a specific hazardous weather event to occur. A Flood Watch is issued when conditions are favorable for flooding.
  • Flood Advisory: Be Aware: An Flood Advisory is issued when a specific weather event that is forecast to occur may become a nuisance.

The FOX 8 Weather Team will be on the air around the clock if there is any weather threat that will impact lives and homes in Northeast Ohio.

Editor’s Note: Info from the National Weather Service.