(WENY)-- The National Weather Service's Severe Weather Awareness week started on Monday. The NWS throughout the week will highlight what to do in certain severe weather events, and give you tips on how to stay prepared.

One way the NWS keeps the public informed is by using weather alerts such as watches and warnings when the weather turns severe. But what are the differences between a watch and a warning?

A watch is issued when the conditions are favorable for a severe weather event to begin. This is similar to if you were baking a cake, you have the ingredients, but you haven't put them together. 

Now a warning is when a severe weather event is occurring or about to occur. This would be similar to baking the cake, and serving it up. 

An important thing to note is that a watch can be upgraded or downgraded depending on the conditions. However, whenever a watch is issued, you must stay "Weather Aware". This means having a plan in case severe weather happens, which could involved knowing the nearest shelter, and having your phone charged.

The most common types of alerts the Twin Tiers get during the summer months are Severe Thunderstorm Warnings. These warnings are often issued for storms that are capable of producing gusty winds, lightning, hail and heavy rainfall, which can lead to flooding. 

As the Tiers saw last summer, flood warnings can also be common. This are usually triggered by a rapid rise in water level for creeks and rivers across the region. If you are in a flood warning, make sure you seek higher ground, as water can rise quickly and can have a strong current.

Lastly, Tornado Warnings can be issued as well, but these are not as common as the other two. Tornado warnings are issued when radar detects rotation in very strong severe thunderstorms, among other tools meteorologists use. If a warning is issued in your area, seek safety in a basement or a tub, and stay away from windows.

The NWS has an entire page dedicated to severe weather safety, tips and more information that you can find here