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Tornado Alerts

Justin Brotton - Friday, June 16, 2017

When you hear the screeching sound resonant on the radio interrupting your favorite song, “BEEEEEEEEEEEEP…This is a message from the National Weather Service. A severe weather event has been identified in your area… (Blah, blah, blah)”.

Everyone knows how the messages goes. It may inform you of severe thunderstorms or a tornado watch or a warning or a threat. (Who really know the difference between the three?) But in Oklahoma the screeching is usually eye rolling time at the radio or TV. Like a typical Oklahoman, I don’t need an update on “large” rain falling in “hick-town” Oklahoma. Please save the long screeches for actually weather events when I need to head to my Storms Direct OKC tornado shelter.

(But if you are interested in the difference between the alerts, here’s a snip of the actual terminology from the National Weather Service.)

What is the difference between a Tornado Watch and a Tornado Warning issued by the National Weather Service?

Tornado Watch: Be Prepared! Tornadoes are possible in and near the watch area. Review and discuss your emergency plans and check supplies and your safe room. Be ready to act quickly if a warning is issued or you suspect a tornado is approaching. Acting early helps to save lives! Watches are issued by the Storm Prediction Center for counties where tornadoes may occur. The watch area is typically large, covering numerous counties or even states.

Tornado Warning: Take Action! A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. There is imminent danger to life and property. Move to an interior room on the lowest floor of a sturdy building. Avoid windows. If in a mobile home, a vehicle, or outdoors, move to the closest substantial shelter and protect yourself from flying debris. Warnings are issued by your local forecast office. Warnings typically encompass a much smaller area (around the size of a city or small county) that may be impacted by a tornado identified by a forecaster on Radar or by a trained spotter/law enforcement who is watching the storm.1

1 http://www.nws.noaa.gov/os/tornado/ww.shtml

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