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What the @!#!%? is a Tornado Watch?

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My favorite weather website, Weather Underground. and my favorite radio station, WAMC, let me down today. Both made it very clear that there was a Tornado Watch for the Rural Intelligence region, but neither explained what that meant, which meant that I had no idea what I was supposed to do. A Tornado Warning is much more of a threat than a “Tornado Watch,” but to amateurs like myself it sounds like the same thing. I wasn’t sure if I should stay home or go out/ How would I even know if a tornado was coming my way? Should I seek shelter somewhere like the public school gym or head for my garage? I had to do a little hunting at the National Weather Service to learn: 

A tornado watch defines an area shaped like a parallelogram, where tornadoes and other kinds of severe weather are possible in the next several hours. It does not mean tornadoes are imminent—just that you need to be alert, and to be prepared to go to safe shelter if tornadoes do happen or a warning is issued. This is the time to turn on local TV or radio, turn on and set the alarm switch on your weather radio, make sure you have ready access to safe shelter, and make your friends and family aware of the potential for tornadoes in the area. The Storm Prediction Center issues tornado and severe thunderstorm watches.

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Posted by Dan Shaw on 06/10/08 at 11:54 AM • Permalink