A severe thunderstorm contains at least one of the following:
This severe weather safety checklist is designed to give you a basic idea of what to do when severe weather threatens. When severe thunderstorms are in the forecast, follow the checklist below to prepare yourself as best as possible.
I heard there was a chance of severe storms today, what should I do?
If you follow the steps above, you should have a good idea of when and where severe weather may strike, where you and your friends and family will be during that time, what hazards to expect, and know exactly what to do if severe weather should occur. Also, your severe weather safety kit should be complete and ready.
Watches may be issued hours before a storm develops. The sky may be sunny when you first hear a tornado or severe thunderstorm watch, but remember, a watch just means that conditions are favorable for severe thunderstorms and/or tornadoes.
Do not ignore severe thunderstorm warnings! Severe thunderstorm warnings may precede tornado warnings, providing you with extra time to prepare for a dangerous storm. If there's a severe thunderstorm headed your way, you should monitor it closely, especially if a tornado watch is also in effect.
Tornado warnings contain information that lists the cities and towns in the path of a tornado. While your National Weather Service strives to provide the most detailed and accurate information possible, there may be occasions when your small town or community is in the path of a dangerous storm, but is not listed in the warning text. This also holds true for television path forecasts. You should be cautious when using detailed forecasts of time and location. Because of the way radar works and how storms behave, these times and locations could be off by several minutes and several miles. Allow yourself plenty of time to get to your tornado shelter.
Our main job at the National Weather Service is to issue watches, warnings and other information to help keep you safe when hazardous weather threatens. Your best defense against dangerous storms is to have a plan of action, and to pay close attention to local weather information.
Your chances of receiving a severe weather warning depend on where you are, what you're doing and the time of day the warning is issued. If you are at home watching local television, and have a weather radio, chances are you will know severe weather is headed your way. If you sleeping, traveling, shopping, working, attending a sporting event or other outdoor event, not watching local television or otherwise not paying attention to your local weather, you may not ever receive the warning.
A single warning could turn out to be the most important warning in your life. Knowing how to get information and having multiple ways to hear a warning can help increase the chances you'll hear the warning when it matters most. Don't rely solely on one method to receive a warning!
The National Weather Service's main job is to issue warnings and other weather information service to help protect life and property. It's important to understand the different types of information available to be able to take full advantage of these critical weather information services. The table below briefly explains the three primary ways we have to inform you about upcoming severe weather - outlooks, watches and warnings.
|Product||What It Means||You Should...|
|Hazardous Weather Outlook||Will there be severe thunderstorms or tornadoes today or tonight, or several days from now?||If severe weather is expected, check back for later forecasts, information and possible watches.|
|Tornado or Severe Thunderstorm Watch||There's a good chance of large hail, damaging winds, and maybe even a tornado in the watch area within the next few hours.||If the watch includes your county, or one close to you, you should really start to pay attention to what's going on. If there are storms nearby, check your weather source to see if there are warnings.|
|Significant Weather Advisory||A storm with hail around 1/2" but less than 1" hail and/or gusty winds of 50-57 mph has been seen, or indicated on radar.||You should move inside or seek shelter, closely monitor the strong storm, and be ready to take action if a warning is issued.|
|Severe Thunderstorm Warning||A storm with large damaging hail and/or damaging winds has been seen, or indicated on radar.||Listen closely to the warning - it will tell you what exactly to expect (hail size and wind speed).|
|Tornado Warning||A tornado has either been seen, or there are signs on radar that a tornado could be forming.||If you're in the warning area, NOW is the time to put your safety plan into action.|
|Severe Weather Statement||Severe weather statements are issued to update warnings and include new information about an ongoing severe storm.||It will provide you with the most up-to-date information on where the severe storm or tornado is located.|