Thunderstorms are usually accompanied by strong winds, heavy rain and sometimes snow, sleet, hail, or no precipitation at all. The National Weather Service (NWS) tracks the movement of all severe thunderstorms and issues watches and warnings for areas that may be affected by a severe thunderstorm. Citizens should understand that the issuance of severe thunderstorm warning indicates that a thunderstorm is producing or will soon produce dangerously large hail or high winds, capable of causing significant damage.
The NWS will issue a tornado watch for an area when weather conditions are present that have the potential to cause the formation of a tornado. A tornado watch does not mean that a tornado has been spotted. A tornado watch only means that tornado formation is possible for the watch area. Citizens in the watch area should monitor a local TV and radio for weather updates. Citizens should be alert to changing weather conditions around them.
The NWS will issue a tornado warning when an actual tornado has been spotted or when their Doppler radar displays a tornado pattern. The tornado warning will indicate the current location of the tornado and will indicate the direction of travel of the tornado. The NWS will identify specific locations such as towns and communities in the path of the tornado. Citizens in the area of a tornado warning should be prepared to make life preserving decisions. These decisions should include:
- If you are in a car or mobile home, get out immediately and go to a safe structure or lie in a ditch.
- If you are inside a building, go to the lowest and inner most part of the building.
- If you are outside, try to find a safe building or lie flat in a ditch or low-lying area.
- Reduce your exposure from flying glass and debris.