Tornado season is upon us here in the South! We have already experienced two severe weather and tornado alerts in the last two weeks! If you are originally from an area that experiences tornadoes then you probably already know how to prepare when you hear these warnings but if you are new to these kinds of alerts it can be overwhelming. A watch can quickly go to a warning status and it is important to know the differences.

Per the National Weather Service:

Tornado Watch: Be Prepared! Tornadoes are possible in and near the watch area. Review and discuss your emergency plans and check supplies and your safe room. Be ready to act quickly if a warning is issued or you suspect a tornado is approaching. Acting early helps to save lives! Watches are issued by the Storm Prediction Center for counties where tornadoes may occur. The watch area is typically large, covering numerous counties or even states.

Tornado Warning: Take Action! A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. There is imminent danger to life and property. Move to an interior room on the lowest floor of a sturdy building. Avoid windows. If in a mobile home, a vehicle, or outdoors, move to the closest substantial shelter and protect yourself from flying debris. Warnings are issued by your local forecast office. Warnings typically encompass a much smaller area (around the size of a city or small county) that may be impacted by a tornado identified by a forecaster on radar or by a trained spotter/law enforcement who is watching the storm.

This seems easy enough to remember but when those severe weather emergency texts start chiming in on everyone’s phones and sirens are going off, it can easily be forgotten and confusion can occur. Thankfully the Normal Fire Department, in Normal, IL, has helped make an analogy back in 2021 but it has resonated well with a lot of people:

Whatever you use to remember the difference between ‘Watch’ and ‘Warning’, always be aware of the weather in your area and stay safe!

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