A tornado watch was issued by the National Weather Service for the residents of South Louisiana for Wednesday night, effective until 2 am, December 24.
According to the Storm Prediction Center, that watches over the United States for storms, thunderstorms, and tornadoes, strong winds are forming and becoming stronger in the areas of Southeast Texas, moving towards Central Louisiana.
But what is a tornado watch? Let’s find out.
What is Tornado Watch?
A tornado watch is a weather alert, issued by the respective weather agencies that watch over the environmental conditions and forecast the weather accordingly. The main purpose of issuing this alert in an area is to inform the residents that the conditions are conducive enough for tornadoes and/or severe thunderstorms to form.
This includes potential formation of low pressure areas along with strong winds.
Is it Different from Tornado Warning?
Tornado watches are often confused with tornado warnings, which are actually more serious. A tornado watch is generally issued a few hours earlier by the weather agencies and the purpose is to make the people in the ‘watched’ area aware about the conditions. In this case, there is some probability that nothing severe occurs.
But it is serious enough to make people prepare for danger. It basically represents ‘be prepared for any possibilities’, emphasising on ‘possibilities’.
In a tornado warnings, however, the situation is more critical. These are issued some minutes earlier by the weather agencies to inform the residents about a tornado which is likely to hit. Tornado warnings are issued to take action immediately and seek shelter in a place where they can stay protected.
What to Look for After a Tornado Watch?
After receiving a tornado watch, look for the sky regularly along with your safety preparations. Here are the thing you need to keep an eye for:
- Cloud Movement: If you see clouds passing faster than usual, it is a sign of thunderstorm that can occur.
- Colour of the Sky: The sky can have a greenish tinge to it and there could also be a bit of yellow. This indicates that a hailstorm can occur which can even cause thunderstorms.
- Wall Clouds: In case you notice clouds lowering down, or a wall like formation this can be one of the early signs of a tornado. The likeliness increases if the clouds are moving in circular motion.
- Hailstorms: Prior to a tornado, heavy rains and hailstorms can happen in your area. This can cause tornadoes to form.
- A Debris Laden Cloud: You might notice some clouds containing dust or small rubble. This can tell you the direction of the tornado where it is coming from.
- Rumbling Noise: Clouds that form tornadoes make a very loud sound, similar to a locomotive.
- Conical Clouds: The clouds, if moving in a circular motion and expanding upwards, indicate the formation of a tornado.
Safety Measures to Take
While watching the weather in your location is important, safety measures are more important to take. Here are some of the things you need to do after a tornado watch:
- Stay Updated: Not only watching outside the house, but you need to keep a radio or any wireless media with yourself so that you get to know the current situation in real time. Keep a mobile with an extra battery or a charger.
- Shelter: You need to take shelter on a lower level or an interior room. If you have a storm shelter or a basement, that would be quite appropriate. Avoid a room with windows. Moreover, ensure the building is strong enough to withstand the winds. Avoid staying in a vehicle or a trailer. If there is no shelter around, lie down flat on lower ground or a ditch.
- Pets: In case you have pets, keep them with you and leash them.
- Trees, Lawn Furniture, and Plants: In case there are damaged branches in a tree, try to get them removed as they can come off during an actual tornado and hurt you. Same goes for trash cans, hanging plants, and anything that can fly and hit you when winds get stronger. Move them to a safer place.
- Drills and Supplies: Make sure to keep supplies like food and water with you in the shelter. If there are any other necessary things like certain documents, make sure to secure them too. Keep the radio device with you for updates and engage with your family for tornado drills so that everyone is prepared mentally for any potential threat.
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