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

The Northeast, upper Midwest, and the South... uh, really?

The map above is via Quartz. And it's based on the work of a linguistic researcher who sifted through millions of Twitter posts looking for... (more)

Green power

Farther afield: The power company for Burlington, Vermont -- a city of 42,000 residents -- says it now gets 100 percent of its electrical power... (more)

In-between places: Waterford

The Capital Region is full of cities, towns, villages, and hamlets. And some of these places -- like Albany or Saratoga Springs or Troy or... (more)

GMO apple

The company that created the "Arctic Apple," the genetically-modified apple variety that's said to resist browning, has been field testing the variety on trees in... (more)

Found Footage Festival at Proctors

Could be (cringe-inducing) fun: The Found Footage Festival tour, a film and live comedy show, will be at Proctors this Wednesday. Blurbage: The Found Footage... (more)

Recent Comments

I think *not* composting sounds odd. Especially when we constantly hear about our ever growing landfill.

The week ahead

...has 2 comments, most recently from Lana

GMO apple

...has 2 comments, most recently from Daniel B.

The Northeast, upper Midwest, and the South... uh, really?

...has 1 comment, most recently from Bob

City Line Bar and Grill

...has 8 comments, most recently from Ron

In-between places: Waterford

...has 1 comment, most recently from J