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

Funding for new Thacher Park visitor center

State parks in the Capital Region are getting $8.675 million for a handful of construction/repair projects, the Cuomo admin announced today. The biggest chunk --... (more)

The 46ers

Check out this trailer/preview for The 46ers*, a documentary about people who hike the Adirondack's High Peaks. The cinematography is beautiful. Film blurbage: "The... (more)

Bright

A recent article in Intelligent Life -- a(nother) magazine from The Economist -- about the role of light in human biology highlights (ha) some interesting... (more)

Planning a Capital Region wedding: eloping

Lauren and George are planning a wedding in the Capital Region, and they're chronicling the planning process here on AOA. But this time, Lauren's talking... (more)

The Dude, he does

Fun: Local designer Andrew Gregory -- AKA lunchboxbrain -- has a shirt in the new Threadless collection inspired by The Big Lebowski. Andrew's shirt is... (more)

Recent Comments

Wow, a Merry Go Round! I read about those in the Babysitters' Club books, but I didn't know they actually existed. I kinda thought Ann M. Martin made them up...

The extraordinarily 80s Crossgates promo film

...has 17 comments, most recently from rob

Drawing: A Taste of Albany 2014

...has 64 comments, most recently from Stef

Conor Oberst at Brewery Ommegang

...has 2 comments, most recently from KGB

The Dude, he does

...has 1 comment, most recently from Greg Matusic

Photos from AOA6

...has 11 comments, most recently from Jeff Williamson