You will probably see them pop up on your phone, television, or computer throughout the spring and summer.

Severe thunderstorm watches and warnings are issued dozens of times throughout South Jersey, especially during the summer months of June, July, and August.

But do you know the difference between a severe thunderstorm watch and a warning? Most people do not, so here's what you should know courtesy of the National Weather Service(NWS) and Storm Prediction Center(SPC):

Severe thunderstorm watch: Conditions are favorable for severe thunderstorm development. The severe thunderstorm watch outlines an area where an organized threat of severe thunderstorms is expected generally during a three- to six-hour period. Severe thunderstorm watches are issued by the Storm Prediction Center after consultation with local National Weather Service offices and can cover several counties to several states at a time.

During a severe thunderstorm watch, it is important to think about where you will be during the lifetime of the watch. If you are outdoors, develop a plan that includes directions to the nearest shelter from any storm that does develop.  Keep in mind severe thunderstorms produced frequent lightning, hail, strong and damaging wind gusts, and heavy rain.

Severe thunderstorm warning: a severe thunderstorm is imminent, or it is occurring or is about to occur. Severe thunderstorm warnings are issued by the local National Weather Service office when it deems a particular thunderstorm has turned severe (58+mph wind gusts or 1 inch diameter hail). Severe thunderstorm warnings are usually highly localized – covering parts of one to several counties – and generally last for 30 to 60 minutes.

During a severe thunderstorm warning, it is important to get to safety immediately. Severe winds – gusts of 58 mph or greater – can down trees and power lines, causing injury and potentially death to those hit by large falling objects and other debris. In addition, if a severe thunderstorm is producing large hail, injury and significant property damage can result.

Indoors, stay away from windows and avoid using a landline phone or other device attached to the electrical circuits or plumbing in your home.

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