Public Information Statement
Issued by NWS State College, PA
NOUS41 KCTP 241356
Public Information Statement
National Weather Service State College Pa
955 am EDT Mon Apr 24 2017
...Pennsylvania Severe Weather Awareness Week...
This week, April 24th through April 28th, is Severe Weather
Awareness Week in Pennsylvania.
We will cover various topics relating to severe weather and weather
safety throughout the week.
Our topic for today is "Tornadoes and Tornado Safety."
We will cover the difference between a Tornado Watch and a
Tornado Warning, and give you tips on what to do when a watch
or warning is issued for your location.
What is a tornado?
A tornado is a violently rotating column of air in contact with the
ground. The wind speeds inside a tornado range from under 100 miles
an hour up to 300 miles an hour. They can travel with a forward
speed as fast as 70 mph, and can destroy virtually everything in
While most tornadoes that occur in Pennsylvania are not as strong as
their counterparts in the plains, strong and damaging tornadoes can
and do occur here. In fact, Pennsylvania ranks in the top 25 for
tornado occurrence in the United States, averaging twenty tornadoes
per year. Between May 31st and June 2nd of 1998, Pennsylvania was
hit by 40 tornadoes, some of which had wind speeds over 200 mph.
What does a Tornado Watch mean?
A Tornado Watch is issued by the National Weather Service in order
to alert you that severe thunderstorms are expected to develop,
And to highlight that those storms have the potential to produce
tornadoes. A Tornado Watch covers a very wide area, generally about
the size of a state. A Tornado Watch will last for several
hours, expiring only when the threat of thunderstorms is expected
What should you do when a Tornado Watch is issued?
Go about your normal activities, but watch the sky around you for
developing storms. Periodically listen to NOAA Weather Radio or
media outlets for updates and possible warnings.
Know which county you live in, and which ones border your
community. Think of a safe place to move to quickly if a tornado
warning is issued for your location, or if thunderstorms approach.
What does a Tornado Warning mean?
A Tornado Warning is issued when meteorologists spot a developing
tornado using doppler radar, or when a tornado has been sighted
by trained Skywarn spotters. The warning means a tornado is going
to move through your area soon, so you need to take immediate
action to protect your life and property.
Tornado Warnings issued by National Weather Service meteorologists
typically cover areas smaller than one county, and for a duration
of generally less than one hour. In the text of the warning
statement, we try to make a specific list of towns that are likely
to be in the path of the tornado. You should listen to hear if
communities or landmarks near you are mentioned in the warning.
What you should do when a Tornado Warning is issued for your area,
Take immediate action, but remain calm. If you are at home or in
a small building, go to the basement or to an interior room on
the lowest floor. Closets, bathrooms, and other interior rooms
without windows offer the best protection. Avoid windows and get
under something sturdy or cover yourself with a mattress.
If you are in a school, hospital, or shopping center, go to a
pre-designated shelter area. Stay away from large open areas such
as gyms or auditoriums, hallways and small interior rooms offer
the best protection. Do not go outside to your car. If you are in
a high-rise building, go to an small interior room or hallway on
the lowest floor possible. Do not use the elevator.
Mobile homes are easily tossed about by the strong winds of a
tornado. Immediately take shelter in a substantial structure.
If you are caught outdoors and cannot get to a safe
building, as a last resort, you should:
If you have access to a vehicle, get in and buckle your seat belt
and try to drive to the closest sturdy shelter. If your vehicle is
hit by flying debris while you are driving, pull over and park.
Stay in the car with the seat belt on. Put your head down below the
windows, cover your head with your hands and a blanket, coat or
other cushion if possible.
If you can safely get noticeably lower than the level of the
roadway, leave your car and lie in that low area, covering your
head with your hands.
Your choice of whether to stay in your car should be driven by your
specific circumstances. If you are in a car or if you seek shelter
in a depression or ditch with a tornado approaching, you remain at
risk. The safest place to be is in an underground shelter, basement
or safe interior room.
For additional information on tornadoes and severe weather check out
our web site at:
Our weather safety topics for the rest of the week will be,
Tuesday, Thunderstorm Safety.
Wednesday, Flash Flood Safety.
Thursday, River Flood Safety.
Friday, Skywarn Severe Weather Spotters.
Now is the time to prepare for this year`s severe weather season.