ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — While the time to prepare for hurricane season is now, the National Hurricane Center has two key pieces of information to understand: a watch and a warning.

It’s never too early to prepare before the next storm. The situation becomes more urgent when the National Hurricane Center issues watches and warnings for areas under the greatest threat for tropical weather.

Although they vary in meaning, they need to be taken seriously.

tropical storm or hurricane watch and warning
Pay attention when watches or warnings are issued for your area.
10Weather

Here are the official alerts that can be issued for your area and what you should do:

Tropical Storm Watch: Tropical-storm-force winds in excess of 39 mph are possible within 48 hours.

Hurricane Watch: Hurricane-force winds in excess of 74 mph are possible within 48 hours.

--Review plans to prepare your home and possibly evacuate.

Storm Surge Watch: Life-threatening inundation from rising water is possible within the next 48 hours.

Tropical Storm Warning: Watch out! Tropical-storm-force winds are expected within 36 hours.

Hurricane Warning: Take cover! Hurricane-force winds are expected within 36 hours.

--Immediately finish your storm preparations and leave if asked.

Storm Surge Warning: Life-threatening inundation from rising water is expected within 36 hours. Check for any evacuation orders!

Extreme Wind Warning: Stay in shelter! The eyewall of a major hurricane, with winds in excess of 115 mph, is expected within one hour.

-Do not leave the interior portion of a well-built structure.