PINE BELT (WDAM) - While only a fraction of all thunderstorms are severe, those are the storms people tend to remember the most. A storm is "severe" when it produces hail larger than the size of a quarter, wind gusting more than 58 m.p.h or has the potential to produce a tornado.
So what is the difference between a Severe Thunderstorm Watch and a Severe Thunderstorm Warning?
A Severe Thunderstorm WATCH means that conditions are favorable for the development - a bit later - of severe thunderstorms. A "Particularly Dangerous Situation" (PDS) WATCH means conditions are favorable for development of intense severe weather. A WATCH usually lasts between four and eight hours.
A Severe Thunderstorm WARNING means that a storm is severe right now, it is moving toward your location, and will be there soon. It is important to take action and get indoors. A WARNING usually lasts less than one hour.
The National Weather Service in Jackson, Mississippi explains the two biggest threats with severe thunderstorms in detail as: