Tornado Watch, Warning, and Emergency: What’s The Difference?
(CTN News) – Weather alerts may seem similar at first glance. We may see a thunderstorm, flood, or anything else on our phones or on the news and move on, especially if we live in areas where weather alerts are common, but those warnings are important.
Often, different warnings seem to mean the same thing, such as a tornado watch and a tornado warning, but they indicate different levels of severity. What sets them apart from one another?
What is the difference between a tornado watch and a warning?
The Storm Prediction Center (SPC) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) sends out tornado watches hours in advance to cover a broad area. People in a particular area are alerted that the current weather conditions may worsen.
Tornado watches do not mean things will worsen. It’s an official way to warn you to be on the lookout for signs of a tornado. Look for follow-up weather alerts and be ready to head to safety if things get worse.
Tornado warnings are usually issued after a tornado has been seen or spotted by radar. You have to act immediately. In more dangerous cases, a tornado emergency may be issued. Typically, these are put in place when the damage could be severe or affect more people.
How should you prepare for a tornado warning or emergency?
A tornado warning or emergency means that a tornado has been spotted, so you have to act quickly. AccuWeather suggests having an emergency kit with non-perishable food, water, a flashlight, a battery-powered radio, and a first-aid kit. Don’t forget to have spare batteries for the flashlight and radio.
This kit is ideal for storm shelters, basements, and even closets. Try to stay away from windows if none of those is an option. Go to an area with reinforced walls if you can.
Stay informed with official tornado status announcements on the radio.
Look for “dark greenish clouds” and large hailstones after the storm passes. Likewise, you may hear “a roaring white noise similar to a freight train.” AccuWeather notes that these kinds of occurrences aren’t necessarily signs, so if they do occur, there’s no reason to be alarmed.