Update: Tornado warning for Limestone and Madison counties Tuesday evening

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On Tuesday at 6:01 p.m. an updated tornado warning was issued by the National Weather Service in effect until 6:30 p.m. for Limestone and Madison counties.

“At 6 p.m., a severe thunderstorm capable of producing a tornado was located near Athens, moving northeast at 40 mph. At 6 p.m. public reported a funnel cloud east of Athens,” according to the weather service. “Flying debris will be dangerous to those caught without shelter. Mobile homes will be damaged or destroyed. Damage to roofs, windows, and vehicles will occur. Tree damage is likely.”

The following locations are expected to be affected by the tornado:

  • Harvest around 6:05 p.m.
  • Hazel Green around 6:25 p.m.

The weather service comments, “Take cover now! Move to a basement or an interior room on the lowest floor of a sturdy building. Avoid windows. If you are outdoors, in a mobile home, or in a vehicle, move to the closest substantial shelter and protect yourself from flying debris.”

Tornado watches and warnings: Your safety guide

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 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.
  • Tornado Watches are issued by the Storm Prediction Center and often encompass a broad 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 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 distinction between these two alerts is paramount for staying safe during tornado season. Stay informed, have a plan, and act promptly when danger looms.

Prepare for a tornado

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 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.

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.

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.

Secure 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.

Extend a helping hand:

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:

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.

Outdoors:

  • 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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