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Issued by NWS Binghamton, NY

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NOUS41 KBGM 221205

800 AM EDT THU APR 22 2021


This week, April 19th through April 23rd, is Severe Weather
Awareness Week in Pennsylvania.

Now is the time to prepare for the upcoming severe weather

We are covering a different safety topic each day of this 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 per hour up to 300 miles per hour. Tornadoes can travel with
a forward speed as fast as 70 mph, and can destroy virtually
everything in their path.

While most tornadoes that occur in Pennsylvania are not as strong
as their counterparts in the Great Plains or Southeast United
States, 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 sixteen 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 the potential for those storms to
produce tornadoes. A Tornado Watch usually covers an area as large
as a state and is in effect for several hours, expiring only when
the threat of tornadoes is expected to end.

What should you do when a Tornado Watch is issued?

Plan your day around the threat of tornadoes. Prepare your
emergency kit if you have not already done so. Know a safe place
to go if a warning is issued for your area. Periodically listen to
NOAA Weather Radio or media outlets for updates and possible
warnings. Find out what time the severe weather will threaten your

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 or law enforcement. 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 30 minutes. 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. Pay close
attention to whether or not communities or landmarks near you are
mentioned in the warning.

What should you do when a Tornado Warning is issued for your

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. An interior stairwell may also provide
protection. 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 a
Tornado Warning is issued.

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 of a sturdy building.

For additional information on tornadoes and severe weather check
out our web site at:

Tomorrow will be the last day of Severe Weather Awareness Week.
Our topic will be Ways to become involved - SKYWARN spotters,
Weather Ready Nation, StormReady, and HAM radio.

Now is the time to prepare for this year`s severe weather season.


Mitchell Gaines
National Weather Service Binghamton NY is the U.S. government's official web portal to all federal, state and local government web resources and services.