The difference between a watch, warning and advisory

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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (KGWN) - Weather forecasters use words like watch, warning and advisory pretty frequently, but what do they all mean?

A watch means the specific weather condition is possible. It typically spans over a large geographical area for long periods of time. In the Cowboy state, residents have heard the term Fire Weather Watch recently. Fire Weather Watches are used to alert fire officials to potentially dangerous fire conditions within a 24 to 36 hour period.

An advisory means the conditions are likely to occur. These are typically used in less severe weather like frost or winds. Frost Advisory's are particularly prominent in autumn during the growing season because they are issued when minimum temperature reaches 36 degrees on calm, clear nights.

A warning means the conditions are occuring or imminent. Warnings span over much smaller areas for smaller, definite periods of time. High Wind Warnings are issued when winds are sustained at 40 miles an hour for an hour or more or if winds gusts 56 miles an hour for any duration.

For more information on watches, warnings and advisories visit Weather.gov.