Tornado watch issued for South Alabama until 2 a.m. Wednesday

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The National Weather Service issued a tornado watch at 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday in effect until Wednesday at 2 a.m. for Butler, Conecuh and Crenshaw 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 signal to review your emergency plans, ensure your supplies are in order, and identify your safe room.
  • While it doesn’t mean a tornado is imminent, it’s a heads-up that you should be ready to act quickly 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 threat to life and property.
  • Your response should be swift: move to 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 by trained spotters and law enforcement.

Knowing the distinction between these two alerts is paramount for staying safe during tornado season. Stay informed, have a plan, and act promptly when danger looms.

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:

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.

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

Establish a communication 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 reinforcing your safe room for added protection. You can find plans for fortifying an interior room on the Federal Emergency Management Agency website.

Help your neighbor:

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:

  • In the workplace or at school, adhere to tornado drill procedures and proceed promptly and calmly to your designated tornado shelter. Avoid areas with large, open spaces like cafeterias, gymnasiums, or auditoriums, and stay away from 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:

  • Being inside a vehicle during a tornado is highly unsafe. Your best course of action is to drive to the nearest shelter. If reaching shelter is not possible, either stay inside your car while covering your head, or abandon the vehicle and seek safety in a low-lying area such as 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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