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Tornado Watches Vs. Warnings – What Are The Differences?

Tornado watches and warnings are different. A tornado is a serious weather event that can cause significant property damage and can cause injury or death to those in its path. Weathermen will use two terms, tornado watch and a tornado warning, that are confusing to many people. People who do not really know the difference will become even more confused when the weather in their area has the potential to produce a tornado.

 

What is a Tornado Warning?

Tornado Warning

When your area is under a tornado warning, this means that a tornado is about to happen. You will need to seek appropriate shelter immediately. A tornado warning will be issued when the National Weather Service detects strong rotation on radar. This will indicate that a tornado is likely to be already on the ground. A tornado warning can also be issued when storm spotters see an actual tornado on the ground.

 

What is a Tornado Watch?

Tornado Watch

When your area is under a tornado watch, this means that the atmospheric conditions are favorable for severe weather events such as severe thunderstorms and tornadoes. The air has become unstable and conditions can progress to a full tornado warning quickly.

 

How Long Do They Last?

A tornado warning is highly localized and will only be for parts of one county or several counties. A tornado warning will generally be in effect for 30 to 60 minutes.

A tornado watch will cover several counties and will be more generalized. Tornado watches can last for several hours.

 

Tornado Warning Vs. Tornado Watch

Tornado Warning

Tornado Watch

  • A tornado is imminent and you should seek shelter immediately.
  • A tornado is possible, weather conditions are favorable.
  • Can last for 30-60 minutes.
  • Can last for several hours.
  • Usually listed in red on the television.
  • Usually listed in yellow on the television.
  • Localized warning.
  • Generalized warning.

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