It is important to understand terms you may hear from the National Weather Service. A watch is issued when conditions are favorable for the development of severe weather.
The size of the watch depends on the situation. It usually lasts 4-8 hours.
A warning is issued when severe weather has either been detected by radar or reported by storm spotters. Warnings include the location, the primary threat and the path of the storm.
Warnings can be issued without a watch already in effect.
A thunderstorm is considered severe when it produces hail that is one inch in diameter or larger, damaging winds equal to or greater than 58 miles per hour, or a tornado.
There are numerous aspects of severe thunderstorms that pose a threat to life and property. Another significant severe weather threat is damaging winds, which can be caused by an event known as a downburst.
Downbursts and the resulting straight line winds can cause damage comparable to a tornado.
More tornadoes strike in the plains of the central United States compared to the rest of the country in a broad swath called Tornado Alley.
It’s important to know what to do when tornado warnings are issued.
If you’re at home, go to your storm shelter or basement. If neither is available, go to the lowest floor and seek a windowless room in the center of your house like a bathroom or closet. Protect your head with a pillow.
If you live in a mobile home, leave immediately and seek a sturdy shelter.