Public Information Statement
Issued by NWS Binghamton, NY

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NOUS41 KBGM 031201


Public Information Statement
National Weather Service Binghamton, NY
800 AM EDT Thu May 3 2018

...This Week is Severe Weather Awareness Week in New York...

Today we discuss the difference between a tornado watch, a
tornado warning, and provide tips on what to do when a watch or
warning is issued.

...What is a tornado?...
A tornado is a violently rotating column of air from the base of
a thunderstorms that is in contact with the ground. Wind speeds
inside a tornado range from under 100 miles an hour and can exceed
300 miles an hour. Tornadoes come in all shapes and sizes and
can travel as fast as 70 mph, and can destroy virtually everything
in their path.

While the vast majority of tornadoes that occur in the state of
New York are not as strong as their counterparts in the Midwest,
strong and damaging tornadoes can and do occur here and in the
northeast portion of the United States. On May 31st and June 2nd
of 1998, central NY was hit by several tornadoes, some of which
had wind speeds up to 200 mph! July 2012 had a tornado go through
the heart of Elmira and track for almost 14 miles. On July 8th,
2014 a devastating tornado went through the town of Smithfield,
NY and was at one point was 235 yards wide and had wind speeds
up to 135 mph.

...What does a tornado watch mean?...
A tornado watch is issued when atmospheric conditions are
favorable, over a large area, for tornadoes and severe thunderstorms
to develop. A tornado watch is issued to alert you and your family
that if a severe thunderstorm develops, a tornado is possible. It
does not mean a tornado will occur with each thunderstorm, it just
means it is possible. The NWS`s storm prediction center issues all
tornado watches for the whole CONUS. Tornado watches can be issued
for several counties or even up to a few states.

...What you should do when a tornado watch is issued?...
Go about your normal activities, but watch the sky around you
for developing storms. Periodically check your NOAA weather radio,
cell phone for radar updates, TV, radio, or cell phone apps for
updates to keep you weather aware. Always know which county you
live in, and which ones borders your community. If you are on
vacation, or driving through an unfamiliar area, keep a map on hand
and know your location at all times incase danger arises. If you buy
a new cell phone, make sure it is Wireless Emergency Alert Capable
(WEA). Remember, WEA are emergency messages sent by authorized
government alerting authorities through your mobile carrier.
Government partners include: FEMA, FCC, Department of Homeland
Security and the NWS. WEA will allow you to receive extreme weather
warnings, local evacuations, AMBER alerts and Presidential alerts
during a national emergency. Always  have a plan on how to get
to a safe place quickly if a warning is issued for your area.

...What does a tornado warning mean?...
A tornado warning is issued when Doppler Radar shows a developing
tornado, or a when tornado has been sighted by trained weather
spotters, county emergency officials, law officials or credited
calls from the public. Tornado warning means a tornado is
going to move through your location soon, so you need to take
immediate action to protect your life. Tornado warnings are issued
by the NWS offices and typically range in duration from 30 to
60 minutes.

...What you should do when a tornado warning is issued?...
Take immediate action and remain calm. If you are at home or
in a sturdy building, go to the basement or to an interior room
on the lowest floor. Closets, bathrooms, and other interior rooms
that offer the best protection. 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 and
windows. Do not go outside to your car. Your car is a very
dangerous shelter in place to go to in the event of a tornado.
If you are in a high-rise building, go to an interior small room
or hallway on the lowest floor possible. Do not use the elevator,
only use the stairs instead.

For the best protection possible, get under something sturdy or
drop to your knees facing an interior wall. Lean forward with your
hands shielding your head. If at all possible wear a helmet.

Get out of mobile homes or vehicles. They are easily tossed about
by strong winds in the tornado. Take shelter in a substantial
structure. If there is no shelter nearby, lie flat in a ditch or low
spot with your hands shielding your head. Never stay inside the
mobile home or vehicle.

Weather topics for the remainder of the week will be as follows:

Saturday...Weather Ready Nation.

For more information on weather hazards and Severe Weather
Awareness Week, please visit:

David Nicosia
Warning Coordination Meteorologist
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.