While there have been significant advances in predicting possible tornadoes, we will still recommend every household have a NOAA Weather Radio and a plan of action for your family. That plan needs to include your emergency preparedness kit, a communication plan, and knowing your "safe place." The safest place at home is on the lowest level of the structure, away from windows, preferably in a small room (closet or bathroom) in the center of the house. When a tornado watch is issued for your vicinity, it is important that you take note and stay aware of weather conditions. When a tornado warning is issued for your immediate vicinity, you should take cover immediately. It is very important that you act quickly and remember to take your pets with you. 

​Watches and Warnings

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Weather Service defines four (4) categories of weather events: outlook, advisory, watch and warning.

  • An outlook is issued several days in advance of potential significant weather.
  • An advisory is issued if the weather event can/will lead to nuisance conditions on roads and property that could pose a threat for injury.
  • watch lets you know that weather conditions are favorable for a hazard to occur. During a weather watch, gather awareness of the specific threat and prepare for action - monitor the weather to find out if severe weather conditions have deteriorated and discuss your protective action plans with your family.
  • warning requires immediate action. This means a weather hazard is imminent - it is either occurring (a tornado has been spotted, for example) - or it is about to occur at any moment and poses a threat to life and property. During a weather warning, it is important to take action: grab the emergency kit you have prepared in advance and head to safety immediately. Both watches and warnings are important, but warnings are more urgent.

What to do when a watch is issued:

  • Monitor storm reports on radio and television.
  • If considering moving to a shelter, make arrangements for pets. Pets are not allowed in shelters.
  • Refill needed prescriptions.
  • If evacuation has not already been recommended, but is anticipated, consider leaving the area early to avoid long hours on limited evacuation routes.
  • Check battery-powered equipment. It will be needed if utility services are interrupted.
  • Keep your car fueled should evacuation be necessary. Service stations may be inoperable after the storm.

What to do when a warning is issued:

  • Have your car fueled.
  • Listen to local radio/television broadcasts for emergency instructions and the latest information.
  • Keep phone lines open to notify local authorities of occurring events such as fires, flash floods, tornado sightings, injuries, or damage. Do not use the telephone to obtain emergency information.
  • Follow the instructions and advice of your local government. If you are advised to evacuate, do so promptly.
  • Follow recommended evacuation routes.