Two of the most commonly confused terms in weather are watches and warnings. And as WTOL 11 Chief Meteorologist Robert Shiels says, they have two very different meanings and it's very important that you understand the difference.
When you hear the term "watch" -- tornado or thunderstorm -- it means that conditions are right for a twister or a severe thunderstorm to form. It's a good idea to have a TV or radio nearby for frequent updates.
But when a warning is issued, that's a much different story. For severe thunderstorms, a "warning" means that one has been spotted and is moving into or is currently in a specific county or counties. In the case of a tornado warning, it means that a funnel cloud has actually been spotted or indicated by radar.
If given for your area or county, it means you should take immediate cover.
Knowing basic terminology is the first step in staying safe in a thunderstorm:
Here are some safety tips for when a thunderstorm is approaching:
Knowing the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning can save your life.
If a Tornado Warning is issued for your county, here are some steps you can take.
History has proven that the worst place to get caught in a tornado is a mobile home or car. If a tornado threatens your area, leave the mobile home or car and seek shelter in a sturdy structure. If you are in a car and a sturdy shelter can't be reached, leave the car and lie in the nearest ditch, gully or low spot shielding your head with your hands. An automobile provides virtually no protection against the strong winds of a tornado.
Tornadoes are classified into three types:
Tornadoes generally move from the southwest to northeast, but they can be unpredictable and change directions anytime. The bottom line for safety is to all seek shelter during a tornado and never try to outrun one if you are in a car. Tornadoes are often destructive and even deadly.