When it comes to severe weather, nothing is as devastating as a tornado when you consider the inch to inch devastation. Tornados often possess stronger winds than hurricanes, and due to the cyclone shape of a tornado, it increases the damage potential. Tornados are also especially dangerous if you are in its path. A single tornado can take out a full town when powerful enough. Some areas of the country are more susceptible to tornados than others due to natural weather patterns. Wherever you live, it is important to know what the difference is between a tornado warning vs watch.
What Is a Tornado Warning?
When it comes to a tornado warning vs watch, you need to know what the difference is. As you’ll be watching television or listening to the radio, you might hear or see an announcement regarding a tornado warning or watch. You need to know what the difference is with regard to these two weather conditions. If you do not know the difference, then the result can be devastating. Many people have suffered unnecessarily because they did not take the right precautions beforehand. This is where we come in to help.
With regards to a tornado warning, it means a tornado has developed and been identified in the area. When a tornado has been identified, it is from someone who has spotted a formed tornado, or it has been identified on radar.
With a tornado warning, it is important to get into place and execute your plan of action for when a tornado warning gets called. For some families, this means hunkering down in a safe space in their home, while for others it may mean coming indoors.
When considering tornado warning vs watch, there are several categories of tornadoes you need to know about. When a tornado warning is given, you’ll be told not only the current category but the potential for it to grow or diminish based on current and forecast weather. Technically, there are six kinds of tornado categories you need to be made aware of and the possible damage each brings with it.
This is the lowest level of a tornado. It brings with it wind speeds between 40 and 72 miles per hour. In terms of potential damage, some tree branches down, shallow-rooted trees ripped up from the ground, and damaged signposts are possible. Additionally, some chimney damage may be possible, but in general, it is not as serious as any of the other tornado categories.
A category F1 tornado is the next step up. It brings wind speeds between 73 and 112 miles per hour. With regards to an F1 tornado, damage will be moderate. Some roofing and siding may be removed under the heavy wind, and mobile homes become more vulnerable at this point in time due to the lack of a secure structure (or any good way to direct wind away from the building). This is on top of the damaged caused by an F0. The high wind may also flip lighter cars and make it extremely difficult to handle.
In this type of tornado, you want to be in a safe area of your home so that you do not get hurt by any falling debris.
The next step up is the category 2, or an F2 tornado. This sees wind speeds between 113 and 157. At this point, the tornados are becoming especially dangerous and will probably cause significant damage. On top of what an F1 tornado causes, this category of tornado may uproot larger trees and mobile homes can be completely torn apart, leaving nothing behind. The wind is also strong enough to knock over train cars and semi-trucks. Small items, such as branches and street signs, become projectiles and are extremely dangerous. Even fencing and other smaller material turn into dangerous debris.
An F3 tornado category will see wind speeds between 158 and 206 miles per hour. At these kinds of wind speeds, entire forests are destroyed, with most trees pulled from the ground. Beyond just train cars, entire trains can be flipped from the tracks, and well poured and secured walls and roofs may be blown from homes. If you are outdoors during any tornado level it’s important to get indoors, but it is especially important with an F3 category tornado.
Second, only to the most powerful tornado category of all the groups, the F4 is powerful and devastating. It comes with wind speeds between 207 and 260 miles per hour. Entire houses may be totally raised. Vehicles may also become projectiles and tossed through the air. These are vehicles of several thousand pounds tossed around without any problem at all.
This is the strongest size and category of tornado. It is basically a super tornado and often is only formed in certain areas of the world due to the necessary weather patterns needed for it to develop. With these kinds of tornados, the wind speed will increase to between 261 and 318 miles per hour. The damage caused is beyond that of what an F4 is capable of doing. Full houses are not only destroyed, but they are ripped up from the foundation and often sent spinning through the air (similar to the Wizard of Oz). Even steel-reinforced structures are susceptible to damage.
It is important for you to take all tornado watch and warnings seriously. No matter the size of the storm, you are in danger if you are outside or not in a safe location. Even if the tornado is a watch, there likely is a major storm going on that, in and of itself, is capable of damage. So, whenever there is foul weather, it is important for you to keep the radio or television turned on and stay informed as to what is going on and what you and your family need to be doing.
What Is a Tornado Watch?
When understanding what a tornado warning vs watch is, a tornado warning always means the tornado has been identified. It has been seen, or detected and confirmed, so there is without a question of doubt a tornado in the area. A tornado watch, on the other hand, means there are atmospheric conditions favorable to the formation of a tornado. This means that while no tornados have been identified and there may not even be the formation of funnel clouds yet, all the weather in the area suggests the possibility, and even the likelihood, of a tornado formation.
When looking at a tornado warning vs watch, the tornado watch is an early warning. It is telling you that there is the chance of a tornado and that you should move to safety as quickly as possible. By the time a tornado forms, you will not have the kind of time you need to move to safety, especially if a tornado has been spotted in the area. Tornados can switch direction without notice, so even if a tornado has moved past a neighborhood, it can swing back. In short, tornados are unpredictable.
One of the best ways to always stay prepared is by having a tornado kit ready as well as knowing what your tornado plan is. Be sure to review your tornado plan with everyone in your family so that everyone is on the same page.
Tornado Warning vs Watch: What You Need to Know
When it comes to a tornado warning vs watch, it is important to take action right away no matter what is going on. A tornado watch means you should be on the lookout for a tornado, as there is not yet one in the area, but there is a good chance of one forming. Due to this, you need to move to a safe location and wait out the storm.
A watch needs to be taken seriously. There are some who see it as a watch and do not take the necessary precautions right away. This has the potential of putting them in harm’s way. Tornados often form with very little warning. Some funnel clouds develop slowly as it makes its way down to the ground. Other funnel clouds are formed right away, which means a tornado watch can move to a tornado warning in a matter of moments. If the tornado forms in the immediate area, you’ll see the tornado before the warning is issued. Because the tornado can develop almost instantly, by the time the warning is issued, it might be too late.
It is important to have some sort of device on hand that allows you to check the weather reports while you are in your shelter. In the event of a tornado, if power and electrical lines are above ground, there is a strong chance you will lose electricity. Due to this, you need a device that is able to still receive wireless transmissions. Even your cell phone may not work correctly if you are either underground or if a nearby cell tower has been damaged. It is a good idea to have a battery-operated radio in your home, along with flashlights, so if power is lost, you can stay up to date on what’s going on.
There are locations where tornados are more likely to develop than others. Wherever you live, you do need to have the necessary safety precautions in place, so you are as prepared as possible.
In terms of the amount of damage and destruction based on the strength of a storm, nothing else on the planet is able to compare with what a tornado is able to do. That is why it is so important for you to be mindful of what is going on, and what the weather is like in your area. You will probably receive a tornado watch notification before anything else. When you receive this, you need to take the precautions right away. This will give you enough time to do what you need to do, gather the necessary supplies, and make your way into your shelter. Storms capable of forming a tornado do not last long, so you will not be in your shelter for long, but for the betterment of your family, it is necessary to move quickly.