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The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood watch for midnight tonight through Thursday evening. The Charles County Department of Emergency Services is taking the opportunity prior to the potential storms to urge residents to be prepared for whatever nature might have in store.

The watch has been issued for Washington, D.C., Virginia and several Maryland counties, including Charles, Calvert and St. Mary’s.

Showers and heavy thunderstorms are expected this evening and through Thursday, with rainfall amounts in excess of 1 inch tonight and possibly 1 to 2 additional inches Thursday.

A press release from the emergency services department provided various preparedness tips and information regarding severe storms, including the difference between a watch and a warning and what people should do in preparation for severe storms.

Michelle Lilly, chief of emergency services management, said that the department “really stresses preparedness in the face of these types of forecasts.”

The release states that a severe storm is possible under a thunderstorm watch but a warning indicates thunderstorms are occurring.

In this case, NWS has issued a flash flood watch. Lilly said that this means there is a potential to have a lot of rain in a short amount of time with little time for the ground to absorb it.

She said that it’s not imminent until the warning.

Similarly, with tornadoes, a watch indicates conditions are favorable for a tornado and a warning means a tornado has been sighted or indicated by radar.

According to the release, “If a tornado warning is issued, take shelter immediately. If an underground shelter is not available, move to an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor and get under a sturdy piece of furniture. Stay away from windows.”

Before any storm, the emergency services department urges residents to develop a plan for home, work and when outdoors.

Have an emergency supply kit equipped with a NOAA weather radio and extra batteries in order to receive warnings, and pay attention to radio and/or television broadcasts for updated information. If planning an outdoor trip, residents are urged by the department to listen to the latest forecast and take precaution if a storm is possible.

For more information on storms, the department advises residents to tune in to local and national weather stations and the Charles County government cable station, which broadcasts on Verizon Channel 10 and Comcast Channel 95.

Severe weather notices are posted at www.CharlesCountyMD.gov and on Facebook and Twitter (keywords: Charles County Government). Call 911 in the event of an emergency.