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_zen_'s avatar

Tornado watch: do you actually do anything?

Asked by _zen_ (7854points) June 1st, 2011

There is a tornado watch for the Northeastern US – cities like NY, Boston and Philly. Are you doing anything? Are you preparing in any way?

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34 Answers

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I watch the National Weather Service, they have pretty good radar, plus I keep my scanner on.

WestRiverrat's avatar

We get tornado watches here all the time. We are on the edge of tornado alley. I don’t get too excited by a watch.

I may tune into the local radio station with the best weather, but I will not otherwise alter my routine.

_zen_'s avatar

Yes, but do you actually do anything?

erichw1504's avatar

We get a tornado watch just about every other week here in Southern Illinois. We don’t worry until it turns into a warning and then we may head into our laundry room if the sirens go off. Last time we actually just stayed out and watched the crazy wind blow stuff around the streets.

JLeslie's avatar

Watch, I turn on the TV and check how far the storms are and where they are going, but as long as my area remains just under watch, I don’t really pay too much attention to it, and go back to what I was doing. Warning, I tune into the television and see where the tornadoes really are. If they are nearby I go down into my tornado shelter.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

It’s a watch, which means conditions are favorable. If it gets upgraded to a warning it means a tornado was identified. Plus the warnings are so precise they can identify the location. If it’s really close I might head for the basement.

jaytkay's avatar

I never do anything. A watch means the conditions are right to produce a tornado. Watches are common.

A warning is a step up, meaning a tornado has actually been sighted.

The only time I’ve taken action was in elementary school when we were herded into the hall away from the windows during a warning. It was hot, 90 F, raining furiously and the sky was GREEN!

_zen_'s avatar

OIC now. Thanks for the explanation.

incendiary_dan's avatar

If we get a warning I’ll head for the basement with my emergency bag. Otherwise, no.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I go outside and watch the sky.

A “watch” is kind of mild. A “warning” is a more significant risk of tornadic activity. We get tornado watches on an almost daily basis around here, but it’s rare for a tornado to actually touch down. About a week ago I got some photos of a phenomenal funnel cloud and wall cloud, which luckily did minor damage as the funnel never connected with the ground, but I was outside pretty much the entire time.

Considering that was a rare instance of genuine threat, and not just precautionary, I did prepare. I gathered my purse (which has my ID, money, and banking stuff in it), bottled water, cell phone charger and packed them all together and put them in a safe place in the basement. I rounded up my pets in the basement, and pulled a heavy table down there up against an interior wall. And then I hauled ass to get outside and watch the beauty that Mother Nature had in store.

JLeslie's avatar

@zen Hurricanes it is the same, watch is used when the hurricane is days out and likely to hit a certain area of the US, warning is when it is basically immenent and they can predict fairly accurately where it is going. So 2 days out the east coast of Florida might be all under watch. As a hurricane approaches FL and they narrow the field for the direct hit, about 36 hours before tropical storm force winds are expected to start, the counties most likely to be affected switch to warning. For instance Broward and Dade County might be under warning when it is 36 hours or less away, while Palm Beach county (more north and less likely for a direct hit) continues to remain under watch, the county north of that might have all watch and warnings removed.

erichw1504's avatar

I do exactly as it says: watch for tornadoes.

Blueroses's avatar

We have “watches” all throughout May and June here and twisters do touch down in the region but the geological features (mountain ranges and cliffs) just where I am seem to break up or confuse and bounce them away from here. It’s not impossible but unlikely that my neighborhood will be hit.
I keep bottled water, flashlight, a rock hammer, shovel and radio in the basement just in case. I will go down there with my pets if the sky goes dark green and all the birds stop singing but it never amounts to anything. Last summer, a twister did hit the town without warning about 1.5 miles from me and I didn’t know anything about it until my out-of-state friends started calling to tell me about it.

erichw1504's avatar

Some people on here are stating that a tornado warning goes into effect when one is spotted. According to the Weather Channel, a tornado warning can begin when rotation is spotted on the radar. Which means a tornado is likely to form or already be present.

YoBob's avatar

Not much you can do. All a watch means is that conditions are favorable for tornadoes to form. So, you should be ready to take cover should a warning be issued (that means a tornado has actually been spotted), but other than that, go about your business.

JLeslie's avatar

@erichw1504 The way I understand it that is correct. My county is under tornado warning based on radar typically. We might not actually get any tornadoes.

flutherother's avatar

I have only been under a tornado watch once and we took in everything in the garden that might blow about and cause damage including the cats. The sky turned a greenish colour and a tornado was sighted a few miles away heading in our direction but it fizzled out without causing any great damage. We were kept updated on a special weather channel. It was a bit nerve racking but not that unusual. We were living near the Gulf coast where hurricanes are the greater danger.

JLeslie's avatar

@flutherother That sounds like a warning, not watch.

flutherother's avatar

@JLeslie I think you are right. It started as a tornado watch, the TV made a funny noise and asked us to tune into a weather channel where we were kept updated. It then turned into a serious warning when the tornado was spotted.

Mikewlf337's avatar

Just turn the tv to the weather radar to see what is going on and I watch the actual storm.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

Usually not, but I have a basement apartment, so what else am I going to do besides stay exactly where I already am?

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Yep, I watch them. =0) When it upgrades to warning, that’s when I take my kids, pets and weather radio into the bathroom.

incendiary_dan's avatar

Just heard about a tornado in Springfield, MA.

WasCy's avatar

I enjoy the thunderstorm that usually accompanies the watch. We get a lot of “watches”; I don’t do much of anything except watch to see if the weather is much worse than any other T-storm, and maybe listen to the radio.

YARNLADY's avatar

We just had a tornado warning for North Central Sacramento. My adult grandsons were at the airport picking up a guest, so I called them and suggested if the weather was too bad, they should go to a restaurant and have dinner and wait out the severe weather.

_zen_'s avatar

Have there always been this many tornadoes and hurricanes – or is this also fairly recent because of global warning, ozone layer et al?

WasCy's avatar

Tornadoes vary pretty wildly from year to year. Some years can have relatively few, and some can have hundreds.

The other variable, of course, is population. The Great Plains, where most tornadoes occur, are relatively unpopulated. When an F5 tornado touches down on a farmer’s 1000-acre field, only his and his neighbors’ crops are ruined (maybe their houses as well) and you won’t even hear about it. Just another isolated disaster for one or two families.

But when an F5 touches down in a populated area, then it’s widespread disaster, damage in the hundreds of millions, and many lives affected.

No one has shown a strong correlation between “climate change” and “storm frequency or strength”. In fact, it seems that tornado frequency has been on a general downward slope for several decades, and no one can really explain that, either.

What is indisputable is that “loss of life” is way down year by year, because of better predictive and warning capability and better building materials and techniques (but mostly the former).

incendiary_dan's avatar

@zen The prevailing theory is that rising ocean temperatures have made some types of weather more severe, particularly where wind is involved. I’d venture to guess that the conditions for tornadoes were generally there but less powerful, resulting in fewer actual tornadoes.

@WasCy I’d like to see some stats on that, because I’ve heard precisely the opposite, and when I hear about 80 tornadoes touching down in a 24 hour period I tend to believe it.

YARNLADY's avatar

We always hear about the so called El Niño/La Niña effect, so it might be something like that. We have a few low category tornadoes every year. They are narrow funnels that touch down and destroy a few trees or shed here and there. One earlier this week tore out a few dozen acres of Almond trees.

WasCy's avatar

Here’s one for you, @incendiary_dan. But it seems to fly in the face of “conventional thinking” on the topic, so even though the statistics and data seem to be in order, it’s not politically correct.

incendiary_dan's avatar

@WasCy People keep using that term. I do not think that means what you think it means.~

Seriously though, interesting stuff. I’ll be reading it soon.

JLeslie's avatar

This year has been a big year for tornadoes, and unfortunately have been deadly. I think we are up to 400 people dead to date, and that is very high. Very sad. Plus we have had incredible flooding along the Mississippi River from the tremendous amounts of rain, and of course levees are purposely opened to flood rural areas along the river.

Blueroses's avatar

We had a watch last night that turned into a warning. The civil alert sirens were going off but you can only hear them if you’re already outside. They’re loud alright, but if you’re indoors, you won’t hear them. I talked to several people today who live closer to where the watch path was and they didn’t even know the alarms went off so I’m not sure how great that system is.

I was kind of laughing at the Emergency broadcast on TV. The National Weather Service has issued the following warning… ###* * TORNADO * *###
Of course I read that as (expletive deleted) TORNADO!

One funnel did touch down 3 times within a 9 mile radius of the city, but no major damage was reported.

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