Warning: Severe storms, hail possible today

There is a severe thunderstorm watch in effect for southwestern Connecticut on Tuesday, June 23, until 4 p.m.

There is a possible severe storm Tuesday afternoon and evening, according to the National Weather Service, as a cold front tracks through the region. “Damaging wind gusts and large hail will be the primary threats,” according to a hazardous weather outlook published by the weather service on Tuesday.

The severe thunderstorm watch is in effect for Fairfield, New Haven, Middlesex and New London counties in Connecticut. It is also in effect for 11 counties in New York, including Westchester, New York, Bronx, Queens, Kings, Nassau, Putnam, Rockland and Orange counties.

Showers and thunderstorms are likely in southwestern Connecticut mainly after 4 p.m., according to the weather service. Some storms could be severe with damaging winds, heavy rain and frequent lightning. Before that, Tuesday is expected to be partly sunny with a high near 88 in southwestern Connecticut. The chance of precipitation is 60%. The afternoon rainfall could total between a quarter and a half inch of rain.

A severe thunderstorm watch means that the potential exists for the development of thunderstorms which may produce large hail or damaging winds. When a watch is issued, you should go about your normal activities, but keep an eye to the sky and an ear to the National Weather Service's weather radio or local radio and television stations for further updates and possible warnings.

A severe thunderstorm warning, on the other hand, means that a severe thunderstorm is occurring or is imminent based on doppler radar information. You should move indoors to a place of safety. Schools should think about delaying departure of buses, and should take quick action to delay outdoor sports activities, etc.

The term severe refers to hail that is dime size, 0.75 inches in diameter or larger, and/or wind gusts to 58 mph or more. Although lightning can be deadly it is not a criterion for what the National Weather Service defines as severe since any ordinary thunderstorm can produce a lot of lightning. Also, excessive rainfall may lead to flash flooding, but heavy rain is not a criterion for the term severe. Severe strictly refers to hail at least 3/4 of an inch in diameter or wind gusts of at least 58 mph.