Tornado Watch vs Tornado Warning - What’s the Difference?

Tornado watch vs tornado warning – what’s the difference?

/ 09:28 AM October 26, 2021

If you live in a place where tornados are prevalent, you should know tornado watch vs. tornado warning, what is the difference means. Those who live in tornado alley are fully aware.

Tornado watch vs warning, which is which? With severe weather season going on, we should all know the differences between watching and warning.


Being able to differentiate a tornado watch vs warning could save your life and others too.

If you are not sure if tornado watch vs warning is worse, we have all of the information you need to know the difference. This way, you know when to seek shelter.

Tornado watches and warnings are given for a purpose. How someone reacts based on tornado watch vs. warning is

First, here is some information about tornado watches and what the meaning of tornado watch is.

What is a tornado watch?

What is a tornado watch?

A tornado watch occurs when there is potential for a tornado to develop. This may include thunderstorms as well.


A tornado watch does not mean that there is a tornado, just that conditions are favorable for a tornado or storm to form.

Usually, a Tornado Watch is issued hours in advance by the Storm Prediction Center (SPC). Sometimes a watch will not result in any thunderstorms or tornadoes.

If there is a tornado watch in a smaller area that you live in or an area close to you, we advise that you keep watching or listening to the weather and be ready to act if you have to.


Tornado watches do not always mean that severe weather is imminent. A local warning will be provided by the National Weather Service (NWS).

What is a tornado warning?

What is a tornado warning?

Tornado warnings have a different meaning than tornado watches. When a severe thunderstorm develops and produces a tornado, a tornado warning is issued.

Also, a warning is issued when the radar signature shows that a tornado can develop.

If you are in or around an area with a tornado warning, the best course of action is to seek shelter immediately.

There may be storm shelters in the area that you are in. Try finding a storm shelter or some kind of shelter.

Some examples include basements, the middle of a building, away from windows, and a place with strong, reinforced walls.

Another place that you could seek shelter is your bathroom tub.

If you do not have a basement or a bathtub in your home, getting in the tub under something very soft is safer than out in the open.

A tornado outbreak near a very populated city may be issued if there is a tornado outbreak close to a very populated city. The emergency just means that there may be more damage.

A tornado watch vs warning is two terms that we should know and tell the difference between the two.

What is the difference between the two?

What is the difference between the two?

Knowing the difference between a tornado warning and a warning can help prepare you to seek shelter and other plans that your local news team has for you.

Being aware of the difference between a tornado watch vs warning is a great tool to have. A tornado watch is an alert that is given to everyone hours ahead of time.

All a tornado watch means is there are the right factors and conditions for a tornado or thunderstorm to appear.

If the weather conditions are favorable, you may see some storms and even flash flooding. Severe weather is not guaranteed, however.

Tornado watches are also issued for broad areas solely based on the conditions being met for severe thunderstorms or tornadoes to appear. Watches cover about 25,000 square miles.

Watches and warnings are issued on a different basis. The Storm Prediction Center issues the tornado watches, and the tornado warnings are given out by your local National Weather Service.

The warning also includes other weather, such as hail and wind speeds. If the wind is more than 55 mph, it will be included in the warning.

Warnings have two main indicators. Warnings are issued with a meteorologist your local National Weather Service gives out the tornado warnings monitoring the storm. They also look at the areas that will be impacted by a tornado and report that as well.

Now that you know the differences in watches and warnings, which one do you think is worse?

Which is worse, a tornado watch or warning?

When severe weather is close by, it is always good to know what type of weather is coming. Knowing the difference between tornado watches and warnings may save your life one day.

Tornado warnings and watches often confuse people. However, when you are not sure what the difference is, listen to the radio to the weather reports.

Tornado watches cover huge areas and can cover many states at a time. This tells us simply to keep watch because the weather is changing enough to cause a tornado.

The warning, however, is something to be concerned with because it is worse. This means a tornado is imminent, and sometimes it tells us that a tornado has touched down.

It knows when a tornado is coming if always great knowledge to have as well.

How can you tell if a tornado is coming?

How can you tell if a tornado is coming?

If you know the signs of a tornado coming, you will have some extra time to prepare and seek shelter.

There are a few signs that a tornado is coming. Tornadoes usually come without any notice, however.

Signs of Tornadoes

  1. Cloud of Debris– tornadoes throw the debris in the air. You will notice this if a tornado is coming
  2. Loud Rushing Sound– generally sounds like a freight train
  3. Dark Skies w/ green tint– notice what the clouds look like. Are they dark and have some green in them? This is a good sign of a tornado
  4. Calm After a Thunderstorm– when a tornado comes, there is an eerie calm after a thunderstorm. This means take cover.
  5. Sudden Large Heavy Hail– there is hail before a tornado, even if there is no rain
  6. Rotating Funnel Cloud– this one everyone should be aware of the funnel cloud tells us there is a tornado

To Sum It All Up

Tornado watches and warnings are designed to keep us safe in severe weather. Now that we have informed you of the major differences, you should inform others you know as well.

The more you know about severe weather, the better your chances of being safe during the storms. Knowing how to react to stormy weather can make a huge difference in life or death.

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