Weather Center

Where to Get Weather Alerts

By Jennifer Chappell Smith 7.14.15

When you’re facing down any kind of extreme weather, the first thing you need is accurate, up-to-date information. Knowing where to get that information is key. But even if you receive a weather watch or weather warning, do you know what these different weather alerts mean? What’s the difference between a tropical storm watch and a hurricane watch? What’s the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning? How worried should you be?

Use this guide to where to get weather alerts and what they all mean. Armed with the information you need to get through any weather, you’ll be more prepared to get to safety and reinforce your property to avoid damage.


The National Hurricane Center and the Central Pacific Hurricane Center issue:

  • Tropical storm watches: 48 hours in advance of likely tropical-storm-level winds (winds between 36 and 73 mph).
  • Tropical storm warnings: 36 hours in advance of likely tropical-storm-level winds.
  • Hurricane watches: 48 hours before they expect hurricane or tropical-storm conditions to materialize (hurricane-level winds above 75 mph).
  • Hurricane warnings: 36 hours before they expect hurricane-level winds to materialize.


Your local National Weather Service office issues:

  • Tornado watches: when conditions are right for tornadoes.
  • Tornado warnings: when radar detects a tornado funnel, or when someone spots one.


There are no notifications issued for earthquakes, so it’s crucial that you know what to do in the moment. Download the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s earthquake safety checklist here


The NWS issues:

  • Flood watches: when conditions are favorable for flooding.
  • Flood warnings: when flooding is imminent or occurring.
  • Flash flood warnings: when violent, dangerous waters are imminent or occurring.
  • Flood advisories: when you should be on the lookout for potential warnings to come.


The NWS issues:

  • Red flag warnings: when you should be careful with open flames.
  • Fire weather watches: when critical fire-weather conditions are forecast to occur.
  • Extreme fire behavior: when a wildfire becomes dangerous and unpredictable.

Other Resources

Sign up for Texas Farm Bureau Insurance’s severe weather text alerts by texting your county name to 84792. It’s also a good idea to call your local Texas Farm Bureau Insurance Agent for a review of your policies to make sure you’re covered for any weather.

Coverage and discounts are subject to qualifications and policy terms and may vary by situation. © 2015 Texas Farm Bureau Insurance