Understanding the Difference: Weather Watches, Outlooks, Warnings and Advisories in Florida

The Atlantic Hurricane Season is fast approaching and if the past few years are any indication, flooding rains, high winds and the potential for catastrophic damage are possible. As we prepare for what might be an above-average hurricane season across South Florida, our legal team wants to make sure you understand the terms used by the National Weather Service and local forecasters so you can stay ahead of each storm’s progress and prepare accordingly.

Tropical weather comes in all shapes and levels of intensity and are reported in varying degrees of strength. These stages include: 

  • Outlooks
  • Advisories
  • Watches
  • Warnings

Tropical Weather Outlooks

A Tropical Weather Outlooks follows a disturbed weather pattern and its potential for development over the course of next five days.


Tropical Weather Advisories

These list all current coastal watches and warnings associated with an ongoing or potential tropical cyclone, including:

  • Position
  • Current Direction
  • Maximum Sustained Winds
  • Description of Associated Hazards

Tropical Weather Warnings

The categories for Tropical Weather Warnings can vary in Florida and can include:

  • Storm Surge Warning – generally within 36 hours or less
  • Tropical Storm – Tropical storm (sustained winds of 39 – 73 mph) are expected in within 36 hours or less

Hurricane Watches & Warnings

  • A Hurricane Watch means hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or greater) are possible within a specified area. A hurricane watch is issued 48 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical-storm-force winds in an area.
  • A Hurricane Warning indicates that hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or higher) are expected somewhere within the specified area.

During hurricane season, it is important to listen closely to all instructions issued from local officials and to follow all necessary directions to protect yourself and your loved ones. This included evacuating if told to do so.


Preparing for the 2021 hurricane season begins with a comprehensive review of your property insurance policies to ensure you are covered adequately for any potential loss.


South Florida homeowners and businesses interested in proactively managing their storm coverage should be reviewing their policies now. Call Acle Law at 305-447-4667 or visit aclelaw.com to schedule an absolutely free and private consultation to review your existing policy.