Understanding Tornado Alerts: What You Need to Know
Tornadoes can happen anywhere- How to protect yourself
Tornadoes can develop at any time, and while they’re more commonly found in the central plains and southeastern United States, they have occurred in every state, according to the NWS. The violent weather phenomena is capable of destroying buildings and hurling objects like deadly missiles.
Tornado Watches: Stay Prepared
So, when the National Weather Service issues its alerts, what do they mean? When is it time to be aware and time to take action and shelter from a storm?
Tornado watches are alerts to stay prepared and be ready to act, according to the NWS. They mean that tornadoes are possible and weather conditions “favor thunderstorms capable of producing tornadoes.”
Tornado Watches: The Plan of Action
Tornado watches are usually issued at least an hour in advance of anticipated risky weather and up to eight hours before so people can make a plan to act in case a tornado is spotted and a warning is issued, according to a USA Today report.
Tornado Warnings: Danger Imminent
A warning means imminent danger, according to the NWS. A tornado warning is issued when a tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar.
When a tornado warning is issued, the NWS recommends taking immediate action and moving to the lowest floor of a sturdy building and avoiding windows. If you’re in a car or mobile home, find the closest substantial shelter you can get to.
Tornado Warnings vs Watches
A tornado warning is more severe than a watch, according to the NWS. When a warning is issued, there is imminent danger and a tornado was spotted, or imminent. A watch indicates that tornadoes are possible within an area.
NWS Albuquerque put it well: If there’s a watch, it’s like we have the ingredients to make tacos, but if there’s a warning we are having the tacos right now.
USA Today reports contributed to this article.