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Tornado Watch Vs. Warning

Madhurjya Bhattacharyya Apr 10, 2019
Here are some good distinguishing points between the terms of 'watch' and 'warning', in the case of tornadoes.
Definition of Tornadoes: Formed due to air pressure difference with changes in humidity and temperature, tornadoes are defined as the huge spinning columns of wind, which move over the ground surface, and are characterized by extremely fast wind speeds.
These natural hazards occur in most of the regions of the world, and are very destructive in nature.
When you study things related to weather, one of the most confusing terms that you will come across are tornado watches and warnings. Each has its own meaning, and it's very necessary to know the difference between them.
Whether it's a watch or warning, they are issued when the weather conditions are most suitable for tornado development. Depending on their speed, the watches or warnings are issued. In both the cases, you need to be careful, and try to reach safer areas, as tornadoes are very destructive, and they destroy everything in their way.

Difference between Tornado Watch and Warning

What is a Tornado Watch?

Whenever there is a possibility that a tornado would hit the area, a watch is issued. It means that the climatic conditions are conducive for the development of a tornado.
It covers several counties, and can last for many hours. A tornado watch notification is prerecorded, and people are warned with an outdoor warning system. Moreover, warnings are issued over the radio, television, and even the Internet.

What is a Tornado Warning?

They are issued whenever a tornado has already been spotted in a far off place, and is likely to reach that place within a very short period of time.
If a tornado warning has been issued, you need to take cover immediately. Whenever a warning is to be notified, a siren would be sounded for the next three minutes. The duration of the warning is announced by the National Weather Service.
Thus, the basic difference between both terms is that a watch does not mean that a tornado is actually going to happen; there is a possibility that it would reach that place. However, they may also subside, and might not actually reach the place. A tornado warning means that a tornado has almost arrived, and you need to take cover as soon as possible.

Things to Do During a Tornado Watch and Warning

If there is a tornado watch issued, you should follow some safety tips, of which staying informed and updated about the latest weather conditions through your TV or radio is most important. Make preparations to get to a safe place if a warning is issued.
On the other hand, if a watch is issued and you are outdoors, try to seek a shelter immediately, preferably in a concrete or steel building. In case you are inside a building, try to reach a place, which is away from windows, corners, and exterior walls.
Interiors rooms are on of the best places to take shelter. If possible, try to go to the lowest level of a building, and crouch on your knees, with hands at the back of the neck, and keep your head down.
If you are in a car, do not remain in it; get out, search for a ditch, lie there, and cover your head with your hands. Never stay in a trailer or mobile home. Moreover, you should never take shelter underneath an overpass or bridge, or try to leave behind the tornado in your car.