A tornado watch is something issued by the authorities such as National Weather Services (NWS) when weather conditions are favourable for the development of a tornado. During a tornado watch, people should stay informed and be prepared to take action in case a tornado warning is issued.
As of 12th January, 2024, NWS issued multiple tornado watches for many counties across the Mid-South. The list of those counties under a tornado watch is given below:
- Shelby County, TN
- Hardeman County, TN
- Fayette County, TN
- McNairy County, TN
- Crittenden County, AR
- St. Francis County, AR
- Lee County, AR
- Phillips County, AR
- Cross County, AR
- Tippah County, MS
- Tunica County, MS
- Lafayette County, MS
- DeSoto County, MS
- Alcorn County, MS
- Quitman County, MS
- Coahoma County, MS
- Tate County, MS
- Benton County, MS
- Panola County, MS
Tornado Watch vs Tornado Warning
Tornado watch indicates that conditions are favourable for the development of a tornado during which you should stay informed about the weather while simultaneously being prepared to take shelter in case of a tornado situation.
Tornado warning is issued when a tornado has been observed or indicated by a radar. This means that there is more than immediate risk to lives and property. When a tornado warning is issued, it is important to take immediate shelter in a safe location, such as a basement or an interior room on the lowest floor of the building.
As important as it is to take the above mentioned weather, it is important to use reliable sources for information such as weather radio, local news or the weather app, especially during severe weather events. It is also important to follow the rules and regulations set by the authorities and be prepared to take any and all action including taking shelter and having all sorts of emergency supplies in your possession beforehand.
Safety Measures to Take During a Tornado
- Have a plan: As soon as a Tornado watch or warning has been indicated, you should be ready with a plan for any emergency situations inclusive of yourself and your family. Clear communication among the family members is crucial. Identify a safe room in your home, preferably in a basement, storm cellar or an interior room.
- Stay Informed: It is important to have a reliable source of information such as a weather radio, local news or a weather app. Keep an eye out for any indications of tornado watches and warnings.
- Create an Emergency Kit: Prepare a tornado emergency kit that includes essentials like water, non-perishable food, flashlights, batteries, first-aid supplies and any necessary medication. Do not limit yourself to just the essentials but make sure you have all you need while also making sure that you don’t have too much to carry. Keep the Emergency Kit small and useful.
- Identify Warning Signs: Be familiar with the signs of an approaching tornado, including a dark-grey sky, large hail, a loud roar similar to a freight train and a visible rotating funnel cloud. Before the tornado strikes, the wind may die down and the air may become still.
- Follow Warnings: Heed tornado watches and warnings issued by authorities. Know the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning and take measures accordingly. Take notice of reliable information only and focus on the orders issued by authorities.
- Seek Shelter Quickly: If a tornado warning is issued or you observe threatening weather, seek shelter as quickly as possible. Try to find a place such as a basement or an interior room on a lower building. Avoid windows and cover yourself with a mattress or heavy blankets to protect against flying debris.
- Mobile Homes and Vehicles: If you live in a mobile home, have a plan to seek a sturdier shelter in advance since mobile vehicles are particularly vulnerable to tornadoes. Never try to outrun a tornado in a car, instead, leave the car behind and seek shelter in a near-by building or a low-lying area.
- Practice Drills: Conduct tornado drills with your family to ensure everyone knows what to do in an emergency situation.
- Community Warning Systems: Be aware of local community warnings and sirens and know how they operate in your area.
The key to tornado safety is prior preparedness and quick action. Stay informed, have a plan and take shelter in a timely manner when tornado warning is issued.
Tornados in the Past and Their Impacts
2021 Tornado Kentucky
The 2021 Western Tornado Kentucky outbreak on December 10-11-2021, and it was a significant and devastating event. It cut a path through parts of Western Kentucky. The tornado, rated as an EF4 tornado with an approximate wind speed of 190 miles/hour and caused widespread destruction. It travelled for a long distance, affecting communities such as Dawson Springs and Mayfield. The impact of the tornado outbreak was severe, resulting in numerous casualties, injuries, and extensive damage to homes, businesses, and infrastructure. Emergency response efforts were mobilized to provide assistance and support to the affected communities.
The tornado, particularly devastating in the town of Mayfield, resulted in significant loss of life and extensive property damage. The aftermath of Mayfield KY Tornado prompted large-scale rescue and recovery efforts, with communities coming together to support those affected. Emergency services, including the National Weather Service, played a crucial role in providing warnings and guidance.
The event highlighted the importance of preparedness and resilience in the face of natural disasters. The tornado Kentucky that struck Western Kentucky on December 10, 2021, was part of a severe weather outbreak across several states in the central United States. The tornado, with a preliminary rating of EF-4, caused significant damage and resulted in numerous casualties. It particularly impacted the towns of Mayfield and Dawson Springs.
Many homes and businesses were destroyed, and the tornado’s path left a trail of devastation. The community response, along with state and federal assistance, played a crucial role in the recovery efforts. The incident highlighted the importance of preparedness and response to extreme weather events. If you have specific questions or need more details, feel free to ask.
2023 Rolling Fork-Silver City Tornado (Tornado Mississippi)
On the night of 24th March, 2023, a large and destructive wedge tornado struck the communities of Rolling Fork and Silver city, Mississippi, killing 17 people and injuring at least 165 others. The tornado damaged and destroyed much of Rolling Fork, with the most intense damage leading the NWS to assign a rating of EF4. Preliminary information from the National Weather Service in Jackson, Mississippi indicated that over 78% of the city of Rolling Fork and over 96% of Silver City sustained some level of damage from the tornado, with at least 300 homes sustaining damage in Rolling Fork.
Tornadoes are a naturally occurring disaster but there are ways to know when one might strike, so, you as a person should keep an eye out for any and all tornado watches and tornado warnings issued. Being prepared and having a developed plan helps you stay calm in case of an emergency and take care of your loved ones. Do not panic and take rash decisions, rather, clearly communicate all issues and problems and follow the rules and regulations issued by the authorities. Stay informed, have a plan and always take shelter.