Difference between tornado watch and tornado warning
Tornadoes are powerful and unpredictable natural disasters that can cause extensive damage and loss of life. In the United States, tornadoes are most common in the Midwest and South, where they can form quickly and without warning. To help people prepare for and respond to these events, the National Weather Service (NWS) issues two types of alerts: tornado watches and tornado warnings. In this article, we will explore the difference between tornado watches and tornado warnings, and provide examples of their usage.
A tornado watch is an alert issued by the NWS when conditions are favorable for the development of tornadoes in a particular area. A watch is typically issued for a wide geographic region and can cover several hours. During a tornado watch, people should be alert and prepared for the possibility of a tornado, and monitor local weather reports and updates.
A tornado warning, on the other hand, is a more urgent alert issued by the NWS when a tornado has been sighted or is imminent in a particular area. A warning is typically issued for a smaller geographic region and a shorter period of time than a watch, and means that people in the affected area should take immediate action to protect themselves and their property.
To illustrate the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning, let us consider an example:
Example: The NWS issues a tornado watch for a large area of the Midwest from 2 pm to 8 pm. During this time, conditions are favorable for the development of tornadoes, but no tornadoes have been reported yet.
Later in the day, the NWS receives reports of a tornado forming in a specific area within the watch zone. The NWS then issues a tornado warning for that specific area, indicating that a tornado has been sighted or is imminent and that people in the affected area should take immediate action to protect themselves and their property.
In this example, the tornado watch was issued before any tornadoes were reported, while the tornado warning was issued in response to a specific tornado sighting or threat.
It is important to note that tornado watches and warnings are not interchangeable, and that people should take different actions in response to each type of alert. During a tornado watch, people should be prepared to take action if a tornado does develop in their area, by identifying a safe shelter and staying tuned to local weather reports. During a tornado warning, people should immediately seek shelter in a sturdy building, preferably in a basement or interior room without windows, and stay there until the danger has passed.
To summarize, tornado watches and warnings are two types of alerts issued by the National Weather Service to inform people about the possibility or presence of tornadoes in a particular area. A tornado watch is issued when conditions are favorable for the development of tornadoes, while a tornado warning is issued when a tornado has been sighted or is imminent. Understanding the difference between these two alerts is critical for people to stay safe and respond appropriately during a tornado event.