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Resource Management Agency

Environmental Services

Environmental Services
1441 Schilling Place
Salinas, CA 93901
(831) 755-4879
(831) 755-5877

Although every effort is made to provide complete and accurate information on this website and all its documents, users are advised to contact applicable County Resource Management Agency staff before making project decisions and fee estimates.

National Weather Service Terms

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Watches And Warnings


The given event (i.e. flash flood, tornado etc.) is possible and advance preparedness activities should be taken. (Think of as a "yellow alert".)


The event in imminent or already occurring. Take immediate steps to save lives and property. ("Red alert")

Flash Flood:

A flood event which happens within a few hours of excessive rainfall, dam break or levee failure. Not necessarily, or even usually a "wall of water".

  • Flash Flood Watch: issued by WSFO - Redwood City Office
  • Flash Flood Warning: issued by WSO - Redwood City Office
  • Flash Flood Statement: update Watch or Warning
  • Urban and/or Small Stress Flooding: Less critical event when minor flooding of underpasses, street, low lying areas, small streams and drainage channels occurs.

River Forecasts:

Forecast of stage and time of crest on major riverine systems. Levels of warning stage and flood stage. Also tidal effects in Delta area.

  • Guidance by: Calif/Nev River Forecast Center
  • Issued by: office with Hydrologic Service Area (HSA)

Coastal Flooding:

From minor tidal overflow to major inundation of coastal sections. Factors contributing are storm surge, tidal cycle and beach topography.

  • Coastal Flooding Watch: issued by WSFO
  • Coastal Flooding Warning: issued by WSO
  • Marine Weather Statements: used for less severe episodes.

High Wind:

Sustained winds greater than or equal to 40 MPH and/or gusts above 57 MPH.

  • High Wind Watch: issued by WSFO
  • High Wind Warning: issued by WSO

Winter Storm:

(for California mountains)

Snow accumulations of:

  • 7000' and below at least 8" in 12 hours or 12" in 24 hours: Winter Storm Watch: issued by WSFO
  • Above 7000' at least 12" in 12 hours or 18 in 24 hours: Winter Storm Warning: issued by WSFO/WSO
  • Non-mountain areas at least 4" in 12 hours or 6" in 24 hours: Special Weather Statements: to update Watch/Warning


Extended period of snow (3 hours or more) with sustained winds of 35 MPH or greater and visibility frequently below 1/4 mile.


A violently rotating column of air pendulant from a cumulonimbus cloud and touching the ground. (If it does not touch the ground it is a funnel cloud.)

  • Tornado Watch: issued by National Severe Storm Forecast Center (NSSFC)
  • Tornado Warning: issued by WSO
  • Severe Weather Statement: updates Watch/Warning

Severe Thunderstorm:

A thunderstorm with gusting to 50 knot (58 MPH) or hail 3/4" or greater in diameter.

  • Severe Thunderstorm Watch: issued by NSSFC
  • Severe Thunderstorm Warning: issued by WSO
  • Severe Weather Statement: updates Watch/Warning

Traveler's Advisory:

Hazardous driving conditions caused by snow, ice, fog, wind, dust etc.