Weather Preparedness


The National Weather Service Wakefield is the weather service office assigned to Dorchester County for all official weather information. A variety of terms are used to describe the hazards and threats posed to residents based on the forecast. In recognition that the terms may get confusing, NWS has made a concerted effort in recent years to improve product language, clarity, and import to its audience.  In general, follow these tips when NWS Wakefield issues statements for our area:

Take Action

Warnings or Advisories are issued when confidence is greater than 80% that an event will occur. Depending on the type of event, these may be issued anywhere from hours before an event to days in advance of an event. This also includes Hazardous Message (not to be confused with Hazardous Outlook) and Special Weather Statement.

Be Prepared

Watch products associated with weather events are typically issued within a day or more of the event. The confidence level for an event to occur when a Watch is issued is 50-80%. When a Watch is issued, you should begin to gather more information about the situation and determine what actions you will need to take should a warning be issued.


Be Aware

Outlook products are issued days, weeks or even months in advance of the event. The confidence level for an event highlighted in an outlook to occur is less than 50%. When an Outlook is issued, you should take note. This serves as a “heads-up” that you may be impacted and gives you a general timeline of when the event could occur.

Keep Informed

Products may be issued to keep the public and NWS partners (like DES) up to date on the latest forecast. Based on the type of weather event, these products are named different things but usually include the word Discussion or Statement (not including Special Weather Statement).

Additional Information

Winter weather, summer storms, and other weather hazards exist in Dorchester County and the surrounding areas. For up to the minute weather, please refer to NWS Wakefield’s website.

FEMA has a number of tools to assist you in preparing for any weather hazard. Check out for detailed information on how to make a family emergency plan (including pets!), how to prepare your home,  and other key steps you can take to make sure you are prepared for emergencies.