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Severe Weather

What Building Emergency Coordinators (BECs) should do regarding severe weather events.

Building Emergency Coordinator (BEC) Weather Activities

  • Understand the difference between a watch and a warning
  • Monitor tropical weather information throughout the hurricane season
  • Read local tropical statements when issued by the National Weather Service - Mobile

Understanding Weather Warnings

The basic difference between a weather watch and a weather warning is the immediacy of weather conditions. A watch means that there is the "potential" of something happening. A weather warning means that severe weather has been sighted, there is imminent danger, and you should seek shelter immediately.

For an example, let's look at the difference between a severe thunderstorm watch and a severe thunderstorm warning. A severe thunderstorm watch means that the potential exists for the development of thunderstorms which may produce large hail or damaging winds. When a thunderstorm watch is issued, you should go about your normal activities, but keep an eye to the sky and an ear to the National Weather Service's weather radio or local radio and television stations for further updates and possible warnings. A severe thunderstorm warning, on the other hand, means that a severe thunderstorm is occurring or is imminent based on Doppler radar information. You should move indoors to a place of safety.

Severe Weather Monitoring

The best way for BEC's to monitor severe weather is via a NOAA Weather Radio. If the department does not have a radio or weather radio reception is not available in their building, BEC's can monitor SMS/UWF e-mail alerts and/or listen to local television and/or radio. During the hurricane season, UWF follows forecasts issued by the National Hurricane Center. Statements include a storm's forecasted impact to our area including wind and rain (by county). When there is an active storm, the Center will issue forecasts @ 4 AM, 10 AM, 4 PM and 10 PM. Video forecasts are also issued and posted on the National Weather Service - Mobile.

NOAA Weather Radio

UWF has distributed a limited number of NOAA weather radios to BEC's. NOAA Weather Radios are specialized radios designed to receive National Weather Service (NWS) broadcasts. These radios automatically sound alerts for weather watches and warnings.

Users should program their NOAA weather radios to

  • Escambia County S.A.M.E. Code - 012033 and
  • Tune to 162.400 MHz (channel 2)

Departments may purchase NOAA weather radios online or at most stores selling electronics. Be sure and select a radio with the "Public Alert" logo. Example models include the Midland WR-100, Recon R-1630, and Radio Shack 12-162. Staff working outside may need portable models of radios.

For more information, visit the Emergency Management Hurricane and Tropical Storm Preparedness page.