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Tornado Watch vs. Warning

Know the difference and what to do.

Tornado Watch vs. Warning

Know the difference and what to do.

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When it comes to tornadoes, the difference between a watch and a warning could mean your life. Follows these tips from the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) and the National Weather Service to become #TornadoStrong.

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  • A tornado watch means the weather conditions for tornadoes are favorable during the next few hours. A watch usually covers a large area of several cities, counties, and sometimes even multiple state.
  • The National Weather Service issues a tornado warning when a tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. A warning means that it is time to take action because there is imminent danger to life and property.

What should I do if I am under a tornado watch?

  • Locate your family members and pets.
  • Review your family disaster plan, including where you will take shelter.
  • Monitor your NOAA Weather Radio, smartphone apps, and local news for updates.
  • Stay aware of changing weather conditions. Remember, even if a tornado does not form, severe thunderstorms can pose a safety risk too.
  • Make sure your emergency supplies such as flashlights, water, and batteries are accessible.
  • Stay away from windows and keep them closed.

What should I do if I am under a tornado warning?

IF YOU’RE INSIDE:

  • Take shelter IMMEDIATELY in an ICC 500 certified tornado shelter or a safe room constructed using FEMA P-320 guidance.
  • If you do not have a certified shelter or FEMA safe room, immediately go to your safest space, such as a windowless interior room on the lowest floor of a sturdy building.
  • Cover yourself with a mattress, sleeping bag, or another protective blanket. Wear a bike helmet for additional protection.
  • If you are not at home or cannot get to your safe room or safe space, protect yourself from flying debris under heavy furniture, such as a sturdy table, and stay clear of windows and doors, including garage doors.
  • Monitor your NOAA Weather Radio and Alerting App to get updates.
  • DO NOT open or crack the windows in your home.

IF YOU’RE OUTSIDE:

  • If you can safely get to a sturdy building, then do so immediately.
  • DO NOT try to outrun a tornado with a vehicle.
  • DO NOT get under an overpass or bridge.  You are safer in a low, flat location.
  • If you are in a car or outdoors and cannot get to a building, cover your head and neck with your arms, cover your body with a coat or blanket, or abandon your car and seek shelter in a low-lying area such as a ditch or ravine.

 

What should I do after a tornado?

  • Keep your family together and wait for emergency personnel to arrive.
  • Stay away from power lines and puddles as they may hide electrified wires.
  • Watch your step to avoid broken glass, nails, and other sharp objects.
  • Stay out of any heavily damaged houses or buildings; they could collapse at any time.
  • DO NOT use matches or lighters in case of leaking natural gas pipes or fuel tanks nearby.
  • Remain calm and alert. Listen for information and instructions from emergency crews or local officials.