Tornado Watch vs Warning: Main Differences

tornado watch vs warning

Climate change and its repercussions are real. Tornadoes were a once-in-a-blue-moon phenomenon. But now you get to hear it many days in spring and summer. Many people do not know the difference between certain weather warnings, for example, a tornado watch vs. a tornado warning. In this article, we will highlight the main differences between a tornado watch and warning. And what you should do if your local weather channel reports a warning regarding these two.

The Main Difference Between A Tornado Watch vs Warning

Here are the major differences between the two.

Tornado Watch Tornado Warning
Usually covers a large area – like a couple of citiesIssued for a specific small area
Lasts for a few hours onlyCan last up to 40 hours
When a tornado watch is issued – be alert and keep checking the newsRequires immediate action
The weather conditions are okayThe weather condition can be severe

What to Do When There is A Tornado Warning?

When a tornado warning is issued, it requires immediate action. Therefore, you cannot wait and lay around your house. To save yourself and your family – follow the following guidelines.

  1. Do not remain on the top floor of your house, as it is more prone to damage from tornadoes. If you’re in a high-rise apartment – immediately move to the ground floor and inform others to do the same.
  2. The ideal case is that you find a basement and hide there until the warning has subsided. However, if there is no basement available – look for the second-best option and opt for an interior room with no windows.
  3. Avoid being in exterior rooms or rooms that have a lot of windows as they can be prone to more damage during a tornado warning.
  4. Always keep an emergency kit with you when a tornado warning is issued so you don’t have to go looking when you need it.

What to Do When There Is A Tornado Watch Issued?

A tornado watch is not as serious as a tornado warning, but it is best to keep yourself in the clear to avoid any damage.

Here are some guidelines regarding a tornado watch.

  1. Your best option during a tornado watch is to take refuge in a FEMA safe room. These rooms are specially designed to deal with such scenarios.
  2. You can also look for an interior room or basement if you do not have access to a FEMA safe room.
  3. Similarly, do not take refuge in large and open rooms or under-construction buildings as they are more prone to damage during a tornado watch.
  4. Lastly, do not take refuge under a highway, overpass, or bridge. Similarly, stay away from mobile carts and vehicles.

More Safety Tips to Follow

These tips have been cited by organizations such as the Red Cross.

 Find your safe space

Whenever you come across a tornado watch or tornado warning, identify a safe space for yourself and the people around you. Remember to look out for others during this time. A safe space can be a FEMA safe room, an interior room, or the basement of any building. Identify a safe space and immediately transfer there. It’s best that you do not spend a lot of time looking for the “best” option – try to make use of what is available.

Keep an eye on the news

Listen to your local news or the radio for news on the tornado as it can be helpful. If you have signal on your phone, keep an eye on the rest of your family and keep them in the loop.

After the tornado watch or warning

Once you know that the threat has subsided, it is time for you to let your loved ones know that you are safe. It is important to keep your family in the loop. Similarly, if you have any injury – call for help or seek immediate care. Try to stop bleeding until help arrives. However, do not take out sharp objects from wounds as it can cause more bleeding and lead to death. If there is anyone under debris, call for help and keep them in a loop. This can save lives.

Tornadoes can be daunting and scary. But it is extremely important for you to take immediate action if there is a tornado watch or tornado warning. A little bit of prep can save your life. And remember, always help anyone that you can at such times. Seek immediate shelter if you are out of your house. And move into a safer area if you are in your house.

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