Watch vs. warning

tornado noaa archive photoThe National Weather Service issued a tornado watch today for large parts of eastern New York, including parts of the Capital Region, until 6 pm.

We noticed a bunch of people mentioning this on Twitter today, and a few people were getting it not quite correct. That's understandable -- a tornado watch is rare here (if you lived in the Midwest, you'd know this by heart).

OK, a quick review with lightly edited entries from a National Weather Service glossary:

Tornado watch This is issued by the National Weather Service when conditions are favorable for the development of tornadoes in and close to the watch area. The area can vary depending on the weather situation. The watches are usually issued for a duration of 4 to 8 hours. They normally are issued well in advance of the actual occurrence of severe weather. During the watch, people should review tornado safety rules and be prepared to move a place of safety if threatening weather approaches.

Appropriate reaction: Oh, OK, I'll keep it in mind.

Tornado warning This is issued when a tornado is indicated by radar or sighted by spotters; people in the affected area should seek safe shelter immediately. The warning can be issued without a Tornado Watch being already in effect. The warnings are usually issued for a duration of around 30 minutes -- they will include where the tornado was located and what towns will be in its path.

Appropriate reaction: Near here? Head for cover! (You know, calmly, but with purpose.)

(Severe thunderstorm watches and warnings work the same way.)

Here's a NWS brochure on severe weather safety, including what to do in the event of a tornado (not just a watch, an actual report of a tornado). The short story: head for the basement, or -- if you don't have a basement -- an interior room without windows on the first floor (bathrooms are often a good spot).

Curious about how many watches end up including tornadoes, we looked up the stats on the NWS site. According to one study of data from 1980-1999, about 56 percent of watches ended up having at least one tornado somewhere in the watch area.

Bonus: The Tornado FAQ from the NWS' Storm Prediction Center.

archive photo: NOAA Photo Library, NOAA Central Library; OAR/ERL/National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL)

Say Something!

We'd really like you to take part in the conversation here at All Over Albany. But we do have a few rules here. Don't worry, they're easy. The first: be kind. The second: treat everyone else with the same respect you'd like to see in return. Cool? Great, post away. Comments are moderated so it might take a little while for your comment to show up. Thanks for being patient.

The Scoop

Ever wish you had a smart, savvy friend with the inside line on what's happening around the Capital Region? You know, the kind of stuff that makes your life just a little bit better? Yeah, we do, too. That's why we created All Over Albany. Find out more.

Recently on All Over Albany

Today's moment of autumn

This is from last week, late in one of those warm days when the asters were still out. And the bees. So many people soaking... (more)

Brain Food for the Curious returns for a new season at the State Museum this week

The State Museum's "Brainfood for the Curious" series of short lunchtime talks starts a new season this Tuesday, October 17. A museum historian or scientist... (more)

15 minutes free

The bike share launched by CDTA this year appears to be off to a promising start, but one of the difficult issue for the program... (more)

Three new murals for downtown Albany

Something you might notice this week: Three new murals are going up in downtown Albany. Two of the murals are in the Green Street drive-through... (more)

Toned down

It's not your imagination -- the colors of the foliage this autumn are more muted. Jeff Wilkin talked with an expert from Cornell about what's... (more)

Recent Comments

I grew up on a farm and had to pick vegetables and various types of fruits ever since I was seven years old. When my city or suburban-bred friends ask me to go apple picking as if it were a form of entertainment, I feel like laughing in their faces.

A look around the Mohawk Hudson Humane Society's new animal care center

...has 2 comments, most recently from Ellen

Interior designer or decorator suggestions?

...has 2 comments, most recently from Dot Beech

The 1 Monument Sq movie theater project is off

...has 16 comments, most recently from Cmaxby

Where to get furniture repaired?

...has 3 comments, most recently from Rich

Possibly unpopular opinions about apple picking

...has 10 comments, most recently from Craig