Public Information Statement
Issued by NWS Binghamton, NY

Home | Current Version | Previous Version | Graphics & Text | Print | Product List | Glossary On
Versions: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32
NOUS41 KBGM 231202

Public Information Statement
National Weather Service Binghamton NY
800 AM EDT Mon Apr 23 2018

This is the first statement out of five information statements
which will run each day this week for Pennsylvanias`s Severe
Weather Awareness Week.

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
200 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
Pennsylvania 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. 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 150 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.

...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 in case danger arises. Newer
cell phones are equipped with Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA). 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 credible
calls from the public. A Tornado warning means a tornado is
going to move through your area soon, so you need to take
immediate action to protect your life. Tornado warnings 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
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,
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.

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:

Tuesday April 24. Severe Thunderstorms.
Wednesday April 25. Flooding.
Thursday April 26. Severe Weather Terms and Definitions.
Friday April 27. Severe Weather Preparedness and Safety.

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.