Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Watching for Tornados: Knowing the Difference Between a Tornado Watch and Tornado Warning

by Brenda Lepenski, volunteer contributor 

tornado watch versus tornado warning
The TV control is in your hands. Flip. Flip. Flip. As you continue, there is weather graphic and some text at the bottom of every channel. At first, you see it as a nuisance. 

Then you stop to read the graphic.
Tornado watch until 6 p.m.  
Wait. What exactly is a tornado watch?

A tornado watch means that weather conditions could lead to the creation of tornadoes. 

During a watch, it is appropriate to keep a close eye and ear on weather reports. A battery powered radio and a flashlight are useful tools to locate during a watch so they're handy if electrical power is abruptly interrupted.

On the other hand, a tornado warning means that a tornado has been spotted by trained spotters or on radar, and it is important to take precautions to stay safe.

During a tornado warning, the American Red Cross suggests that you stay away from rooms with windows. Head to the most interior part of your home, putting as many walls in between you and the outdoors as possible.

To protect yourself from possible flying debris, curl up in a ball with your hands protecting your head. 

If you live in a mobile home, identify a nearby sturdy building where you can seek shelter. 

However, you might not always be in the comfort of your home. If you are driving or outside seek shelter immediately. If there is no shelter in sight, you can take the following precautions:
  • Immediately get into a vehicle, buckle your seat belt and try to drive to the closest sturdy shelter.
  • If flying debris occurs while you are driving, pull over and park. Now you have the following options as a last resort:
  • Stay in your vehicle with your seat belt on. Put your head down below the windows, covering with your hands and a blanket if possible.
  • If you can safely get noticeably lower than the level of the roadway, exit your car and lie in that area, covering your head with your hands.
Your choice should be driven by your specific circumstances.
  For more information on how to prepare for a tornado, visit and don't forget to download our free Tornado app to be alerted when there's a tornado warning in your area! 


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