Tornado watch for Alabama until 2 a.m. Wednesday

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The National Weather Service issued a tornado watch at 6:59 p.m. on Tuesday valid from 7 p.m. until Wednesday 2 a.m. for Autauga, Bibb, Blount, Calhoun, Chambers, Cherokee, Chilton, Clay, Cleburne, Coosa, Dallas, Elmore, Etowah, Fayette, Greene, Hale, Jefferson, Lamar, Lowndes, Marengo, Marion, Montgomery, Perry, Pickens, Randolph, St. Clair, Shelby, Sumter, Talladega, Tallapoosa, Tuscaloosa, Walker and Winston counties.

Tornado watches and warnings: What you need to know

When it comes to tornadoes, understanding the distinction between a Tornado watch and a Tornado warning can be a matter of life and death. Here’s a breakdown:

Tornado watch: Be prepared!

  • A Tornado watch is your advance warning that conditions are ripe for 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 means 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, find the nearest substantial shelter and protect 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.

Prepare for a tornado

Stay 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 notifications:

Know how your community sends warnings. Some communities have outdoor sirens. Others depend on media and smartphones to alert residents of severe storms capable of producing tornadoes.

Create 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 within your home, such as a basement, storm cellar, or an interior room on the lowest floor without 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.

Help your neighbor:

Encourage your neighbors and loved ones to prepare for possible tornadoes. Consider taking CPR training to be of assistance in case of injuries.

Staying safe during a tornado: Quick actions to take

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:

Stay vigilant and stay informed by tuning in to local news broadcasts or using a NOAA Weather Radio to receive updates on tornado watches and warnings.

At home:

  • If you find yourself under a tornado warning, immediately seek refuge in your basement, safe room, or an interior room without windows. If there’s enough time, bring your pets with you.

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.

Outdoors:

  • When you are outdoors and a tornado is approaching, seek immediate refuge inside a sturdy building. Remember that sheds, storage facilities, mobile homes, and tents are not safe options. If there is sufficient time, make your way to a secure structure.

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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