Tornado watch for Southwest Alabama until 2 a.m. Wednesday

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A tornado watch was issued by the National Weather Service on Tuesday at 6:58 p.m. valid from 7 p.m. until Wednesday 2 a.m. for Choctaw, Clarke, Monroe, Washington and Wilcox counties.

Tornado watch vs. Tornado warning: Know the difference

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.

Get ready for tornadoes

Stay weather-ready:

Keep an eye on the weather forecast to stay informed about tornado risks. Tune in to local news or a NOAA Weather Radio for updates on 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 a family severe thunderstorm drill regularly so everyone knows what to do if a tornado is approaching. Make sure all members of your family know to go there when tornado warnings are issued. Don’t forget pets if time allows.

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.

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 are at home and a tornado warning is issued, make your way to the basement, a designated safe room, or an interior space away from windows. Don’t forget to ensure the safety of your pets if time allows.

At work or school:

  • Follow your tornado drill and proceed to your tornado shelter location quickly and calmly. Stay away from windows and do not go to large open rooms such as cafeterias, gymnasiums, or auditoriums.

Outdoors:

  • If you’re outdoors and a tornado is approaching, seek immediate shelter inside a sturdy building. Sheds, storage facilities, mobile homes, and tents are not safe. If there’s 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.

Remember, acting swiftly and following safety protocols are essential for your well-being when a tornado 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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