A Tornado Watch is issued by the National Weather Service when conditions are favorable for the development of tornadoes in and close to the watch area. Their size can vary depending on the weather situation.
A Tornado Warning is issued by the National Weather Service when a tornado is indicated by radar or sighted by spotters. People in the affected area should seek safe shelter immediately. They can be issued without a Tornado Watch being already in effect.
Before A Tornado Strikes
Purchase a NOAA All-Hazards Weather Alert Radio.
Know the locations of shelter areas in your home and other facilities, such as schools, public buildings and shopping centers.
Be sure everyone in your household knows where to go and what to do in case of a tornado warning.
If you live in a single-family house, reinforce an interior room to use as a shelter - the basement, storm cellar or closet on the lower level of your home.
Inventory your household furnishings and other possessions. Supplement with photographs. Keep inventories and photos in a safe deposit box or some other safe place away from the premises.
During a Tornado Watch
Listen to radio and television newscasts for the latest information and instructions.
Watch the horizon. If you see revolving funnel-shaped clouds, take cover immediately. Remember that tornadoes can develop rapidly.
During a Tornado Warning
If you are in a house or small building, go to the basement or storm cellar. If there is no basement, go to an interior part of the structure on the lowest level such as a bathroom, closet or room without windows. Seek shelter under something sturdy such as a heavy table and stay there until the danger has passed.
If you are at work or in a school, nursing home, hospital, factory or shopping center, go to predesignated shelter areas. Interior hallways on the lowest floor are usually safest. Stay away from windows and open spaces. Stay out of an auditorium, gymnasium and other areas with wide roofs. If you are in a portable or manufactured building, go to a nearby permanent structure or take cover outside on low ground. Do not leave the shopping center to get in your vehicle. If you are in open country, take cover on lowest part of the ground.
If you are in a mobile home, take shelter in a nearby building. If a building is not nearby, lie flat in a ditch or ravine.
Never stay inside of a car. Leave the car and lie flat in a ditch or a ravine. Take shelter in a building if one is nearby. Never try to outrun a tornado in your vehicle.
Learn the difference between a Tornado Watch and a Tornado Warning. A Tornado Watch means watch the sky. A Tornado Warning means a tornado is on the ground and you must seek shelter immediately.
Stay tuned to local radio and television news reports for the most up-to-date weather information.
After A Tornado
Use great caution when entering a building damaged by high winds. When entering or clearing a tornado-damaged building, be sure that walls, ceiling and roof are in place and that the structure rests firmly on the foundation.