Understanding the differences between a flood watch and flood warning is essential for reacting to impending floods. Authorities issue a flood watch after the first signs that water in the creeks is rising or the potential for accumulation in low-lying areas is possible. When a flood watch is issued, pay close attention to local weather broadcasts. Know if the watch turns into a warning.
A flood warning is more serious. Officials issue a flood warning when flooding is already happening or will soon be occurring. When a flood warning is issued, call your local emergency responder contacts to ask where flooding is anticipated. A flood warning that includes your area means you need to think seriously about getting to your facility and implementing your flood response plan.
With or without a flood warning, you can get a jump on issues by watching stream flow levels around you and upriver from you. A massive rainfall upriver today may be your flood tomorrow. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) provides extremely useful daily stream flow maps at: water.usgs.gov