North Alabama under a tornado watch until 2 a.m. Wednesday


On Tuesday at 6:57 p.m. the National Weather Service issued a tornado watch valid from 7 p.m. until Wednesday 2 a.m. for Cullman, DeKalb, Jackson and Marshall counties.

Tornado watch vs. Tornado warning: Know the difference

When it comes to tornadoes, understanding the difference between a Tornado watch and a Tornado warning can be a matter of life and death. Let’s break it down:

Tornado watch: Be prepared!

  • A Tornado watch serves as an early warning that conditions are conducive to tornado formation.
  • It’s your cue to review and discuss your emergency plans, check your supplies, and locate your safe room.
  • While it doesn’t indicate an imminent tornado, it’s a heads-up to be prepared to take swift action if a Tornado warning is issued or if you suspect a tornado is approaching.
  • Watches come from the Storm Prediction Center and often cover a large area, potentially spanning multiple counties or even states.

Tornado warning: Take action!

  • A Tornado warning signifies that a tornado has been spotted or detected by weather radar.
  • This is the real deal – there’s an immediate danger to life and property.
  • Your response should be quick: seek shelter in an interior room on the lowest floor of a sturdy building, away from windows.
  • If you’re in a mobile home, a vehicle, or caught outdoors, seek the nearest substantial shelter and shield yourself from flying debris.
  • Warnings are issued by your local forecast office and pinpoint a much smaller area, typically the size of a city or a small county, where a tornado has been identified, either by radar or through reports from trained spotters and law enforcement.

Knowing the difference between these two alerts is essential in staying safe during tornado season. Stay informed, have a plan, and act promptly when danger approaches.

Get ready for tornadoes

Be weather-ready:

Check the forecast regularly to see if you’re at risk for tornadoes. Listen to local news or a NOAA Weather Radio to stay informed about tornado watches and warnings.

Sign up for alerts:

Familiarize yourself with your community’s warning systems. Some places have outdoor sirens, while others rely on media and smartphone alerts for severe storm notifications.

Establish a communication plan:

Create a family emergency plan that includes a designated meeting place and important contact information. If your home lacks a basement, identify a nearby safe building, like a church or a relative’s house, that you can reach quickly.

Choose a secure shelter:

Pick a safe room in your home, such as a basement, storm cellar, or an interior room on the lowest floor with no windows.

Practice your plan:

Conduct regular family drills for severe thunderstorms so everyone knows what to do when a tornado threat arises. Ensure that all family members are aware of the safe location to seek shelter, and don’t forget about your pets if time permits.

Prepare your home:

Consider having your safe room reinforced. You can find plans for reinforcing an interior room to provide better protection on the Federal Emergency Management Agency website.

Extend a helping hand:

Encourage your loved ones to prepare for the possibility of tornadoes. Take CPR training so you can help if someone is hurt.

What to do when a tornado strikes

When a tornado strikes, taking swift action is crucial to ensuring your safety and minimizing potential harm. Follow these guidelines from the weather service:

Stay informed:

Remain vigilant and stay updated by listening to local news broadcasts or a NOAA Weather Radio for tornado watches and warnings.

At home:

  • If you find yourself under a tornado warning while at home, head to your basement, a designated safe room, or an interior space away from windows. Ensure your pets are safe if time permits.

At work or school:

  • If you are at your workplace or school, adhere to tornado drill procedures. Move promptly and calmly to your designated tornado shelter, avoiding large open areas like cafeterias, gymnasiums, or auditoriums, and steer clear of windows.


  • If a tornado is on its way, seek shelter inside a solid building immediately. Sheds, storage facilities, mobile homes, and tents are not safe places to be.

In a vehicle:

  • It is not safe to be in a vehicle during a tornado. The recommended action is to drive to the nearest shelter. If reaching a safe shelter is not possible, either crouch down in your car and cover your head, or leave your vehicle and seek refuge in a low-lying area like a ditch or ravine.

Always keep in mind that taking swift action and following established safety procedures are crucial for your well-being when a tornado threat is imminent.

Advance Local Weather Alerts is a service provided by United Robots, which uses machine learning to compile the latest data from the National Weather Service.

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