STORM WEEK: Tornado terminology and safety

Published: Apr. 20, 2020 at 6:30 PM CDT
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During severe weather season, the First Alert Weather App alerts you to watches and warnings. Knowing the difference between the two, and when to take action, can be life-saving.

A tornado watch is issued by the Storm Prediction Center when conditions are favorable for a tornado to form. They are normally issued for a larger area – say portions of a state – for a longer period of time – a few hours.

A tornado warning is issued when a tornado has been spotted by a storm spotter or indicated on radar. Tornado warnings are more concise – for a portion of a city or county – and for a shorter period of time. These are issued by your local National Weather Service Office.

When a tornado warning is issued, you should seek shelter IMMEDIATELY.

An underground basement or storm shelter is obviously the best option; however, if this is not possible – you want to find an interior room on the lowest level, away from windows.

If you are driving, you do want to drive to the nearest sturdy structure. DO NOT park under overpasses. Worst-case scenario, abandon your car and lay low in a ditch.

In Nebraska and Iowa, the greatest number of tornadoes occur during May and June. However, it’s important to stay weather-alert year-round.

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