NOAA – What is the difference between a tornado watch and a warning?

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration defines a Tornado Watch as “tornadoes are possible in your area. Remain alert for approaching storms. The NOAA Storm Prediction Center issues tornado and severe thunderstorm watches.”

A Tornado Warning means a tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar – time to take cover! Your local National Weather Service office issues tornado and severe thunderstorm warnings.

 F.L.A.S.H. 7 Myths of Tornado Safety

The Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH)® convened a virtual news conference in June 2013 with leading experts in tornado science, meteorology and construction to set the record straight on tornado safety and building practices. Participants dispelled myths and clarified misinformation that emerged following the recent outbreak of tornadoes in Oklahoma and Texas.

 FEMA – Tornado Safety

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) tornadoes are nature’s most violent storms.

Tornadoes are spawned from powerful thunderstorms. The strength of a tornado can cause fatalities and devastate a neighborhood in seconds. It appears as a rotating, funnel-shaped cloud that extends from a thunderstorm to the ground with whirling winds that can reach 300 miles per hour as we saw in Moore, Oklahoma on May 20, 2013.

Like the Moore tornado, damage paths can be in excess of one mile wide and some can even be 50 miles long.

What many people don’t realize is that every state is at some risk from this hazard. Some tornadoes are clearly visible, while rain or nearby low-hanging clouds obscure others.

Occasionally, tornadoes develop so rapidly that little, if any, advance warning is possible. Before a tornado hits, the wind may die down and the air may become very still. A cloud of debris can mark the location of a tornado even if a funnel is not visible. Tornadoes generally occur near the trailing edge of a thunderstorm. It is not uncommon to see clear, sunlit skies behind a tornado.