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 trained storm spotters. People in the affected area should seek safe shelter immediately. Tornado warnings can be issued without a tornado watch.
Before A Tornado Strikes
- Purchase an 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 in the centermost area of the home.
- Take pictures and videos of the things in your home. Ensure the data is in the cloud. They can be very helpful for insurance purposes if your home is damaged or destroyed by severe weather.
During a Tornado Watch
- Monitor the HCEM app on your smartphone for updates.
- Listen to NOAA weather radio, broadcast radio, or television newscasts for the latest information and instructions.
- Be ready to go to your safe place if a tornado warning is issued.
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 a 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 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. When in doubt, stay out of the structure and check with local authorities.
- Watch for broken glass and downed power lines.
- Check for injuries.