Difference between Tornado Watch and Warning and How to Stay Safe


Natural Disasters are inevitable and can become a major cause of damage to life and property. In primitive times, the method of forecasting weather was highly mundane and often proved to be incorrect. Nobody could predict the weather conditions accurately, let alone detecting dubious weather movements such as the formation of a tornado.

tornado watch and warning

Due to this, people of those times faced a major loss of life and property. Now, thanks to the figurative Gods of Technology for blessing us with the mechanism to detect all forms of approaching disasters. The advent of such a mechanism has enabled us to detect calamities and take necessary measures to defend ourselves from it.

Such disasters are inexorable, but the least disaster detection mechanism does warn us and give us a chance to protect ourselves and our family from disasters like Tornadoes. This phenomenon stems out the question of what is a Tornado watch and what is a Tornado warning? You must have read or heard these Jargons quite frequently.

Subsequently, people often confuse the two terms with having the same meaning. In reality, there is a major distinction between the meanings of Tornado watch and Tornado warning. This article will elucidate this precise contrast and suggest a few measures to undertake when you are warned about an approaching tornado or a hurricane.

Difference between Tornado Watch and Tornado Warning

Tornado Watch

  • A Tornado Watch refers to weather conditions prevalent, which are likely to take the form of a Tornado. Meaning, the formation of a Tornado has been reported just as a speculation and not a certainty. 
  • When the weather condition of a particular region is becoming favorable to feed the likely event of a tornado formation, a Tornado watch is said to be reported. 
  • In such a case, the reporters expect you to be on guard because, although a tornado has not been detected, the weather conditions are suggesting that a Tornado is likely to form. 
  • So, what can you do during a Tornado Watch? Since it is just a warning, you do not need to panic so much. Panic makes the situation worse than it already is.
  • Therefore, the first thing you have to do is stay calm. The next step is to stay on guard by keeping a watchful eye on the news channels and the weather conditions.
  • In the case of a tornado, you may see some kind of change in the weather. If something feels sinister, that is enough of a warning. If you are outside or away from home, it is advised to take shelter somewhere.

Tornado Warning

  • On the other hand, a Tornado warning informs the listener or reader about the foreseeable occurrence of a Tornado with absolute certainty. 
  • This situation is not a speculation or a question of a likely event, and it means that a tornado has been picked up by radar, and its occurrence is certain. 
  • The reporters warn you about a tornado and they expect you to take all the precautionary measures you can to protect yourself from the natural disaster.
  • In this situation, you need to make the warning your utmost priority and do whatever you can to protect yourself and your family from the nearing tornado.  
  • When you are reported of an approaching tornado, that’s your cue to take the ultimate measures of protecting yourself from the disaster.  

How to Stay Safe during a Tornado?

Tornadoes can be monstrous, and if precautionary measures are not undertaken, they can become life-threatening. There have been multiple news reports over the past few years when it has been reported that numerous people lost their lives and livelihood to the hands of such calamities.

Had they been aware of the necessary measures, the least they could do was protect their lives, and the rest is all secondary. Thus, here’s a guide to tell you what you can do during a Tornado that will protect you and your family from its wrath.

  • A handheld weather radio with backup batteries needs to be arranged so you could keep track of the developments relating to the tornado. The meteorological department gives a minute-to-minute update about the movements of the disaster.
  • You need to prepare a disaster kit and include everything you would need in case you are given a minute's notice to leave. In case you are with a patient suffering from a particular disease, carrying the corresponding medicines is also imperative.
  • Keep a watchful eye on the sky and stay aware of the change in weather conditions. Many signs can tell you that the disaster is near you, including dark and cloudy sky, lightning, etc.
  • In case you see a change in weather conditions for the worse, be sure to take shelter in a well-constructed building. Stay away from the windows. It is usually advisable to take shelter in a basement. Once you get there, stay there until the next weather update.


The difference between a watch and a warning is an important piece of information as it determines your course of action. The above-mentioned measures are important, and they need to reach as many people as possible. Hence, if you are a person who cares about human life in general, tell other people around

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About the Author


I am Tim, a weather enthusiast who loves to watch hurricanes and all other harsh weather conditions. I studied B.Sc(Meteorology) at the University of Miami. With excellent knowledge of Weather Forecasting, Meteorology, and Environmental Science, I am currently working in San Francisco as a Meteorologist. Also, I am a member of The Weather Channel and AccuWeather. In this blog, I will write a detailed review of Weather instruments that you need for survival and other activities.