- Education and Science
Tornado Watch vs. Tornado Warning...Be prepared!
Watch for swirling tails
Standing outside looking for possible tornadoes. The community was under tornado watch.
The difference between a tornado watch or tornado warning.
A tornado watch is to let the community know that there could possibly be a tornado in a sever thunderstorm.
A tornado warning is to let the community know that a tornado was seen on the ground, or activity of a tornado is forming.
If you are in the area of a tornado warning, it is best to seek a storm cellar or basement, and wait out the storm.
Be prepared to seek shelter if you hear the words "Tornado Warning".
The hot topic of the season is tornadoes and flooding. If you are living in a state that sees tornadoes often, it isn't unusual to see the old-timers sitting on the front porch in their chairs watching the clouds. Occasionally if asked, they will explain what it is that they are looking for...big, fat, fluffy, blackish-green clouds that are crashing together. I am one of those people that stare up into the sky thinking any dark, ominous cloud is hovering with a tornado ready to drop. What can I say?...I am paranoid!
It took me about a year of living here to understand the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning. (I have to say that I still get mixed up with the terms.) While visiting my grandmother as a child, I didn't hear the words “tornado warning” often. It was normally a watch to let the community know of a possible tornado. It wasn't until I watched the movie Twister, that I began to really watch the storms.
It just so happened that the summer the movie Twister came out, my family decided to take a trip to Kansas for an overdue family reunion. For some excitement, my brothers, sisters, and I wanted to see Twister before taking the trip. Off we went to the drive-in with friends and family for a thrilling movie. All through the movie, my children were glued to the screen. This was equivalent to watching a horror film, in their eyes. I watched impressed, while pointing out the different places in the movie that I had visited when I was a child. To this day, that movie left an impact on my children, and nephew.
It was early in the morning when our little caravan of nine people stuffed into a suburban left for my grandmother's. There were three children under the age of six, two teenagers, and four adults, stuffed like a can of sardines. The children laughed, giggled, and slept the first few hours, while the teenagers argued over seating arrangements. Everything when pretty smooth till we were a few miles outside of North Platte, Nebraska. Across the radio station came the words, “We interrupt your program to let our listeners in the area know of a tornado warning is in effect until six tonight.”
The surrounding areas of North Platte are a common area where tornadoes are spotted.
Three little faces plastered themselves to the windows of the suburban. One pointed out the nasty notorious blackish-green clouds. (I will always associate them with tornadoes.) I made it a point to double check seat belts, close up chip bags, candy containers and pop the lids back on any water bottles that needed it. Meanwhile, one of my brothers decided to hackle the kids by convincing them the thunderstorms were going to drop a tornado on them.
The sky grew blacker, hail dropped the size of golf balls, and lightening struck so close the thunder snapped with it. My children thought it was the greatest thing to see since Santa. North Platte flashed by in a bolt of lightening before we realized it was even close. A semi passed us like it was broad daylight, then cut in front of us to slam on its brakes. Over the radio came the announcement a tornado was spotted ripping across a farmer's field headed for us. Not only were the children plastered to the windows now, us adults were too.
My dad spotted it first.
Possible Tornado Clouds
It was behind us, zig zagging a path to the highway.
The children looked like owls, stretching their necks in the seat belts, hollering because one or the other, couldn't see it properly. A bolt of lightening lit up the skyline the same time thunder clashed, causing the kids to scream. (This lit up the tornado enough for everyone to properly see that it was closer than comfort.)
My dad, whom was driving, swerved a little, while speeding up. The rest of us adults nearly had a heart attack, then started laughing, as the tornado evaporated into the sky. Everyone was laughing that is, except my ex-sister-in-law.
None of us had realized that she was terrified of storms. To this day, my brother (her husband at the time) bores physical scars of her clinging to his arms terrified. It didn't faze him any, he still loves to storm chase and tease about possible tornadoes.
We made it to my grandmother's safely, with the three young children, anxious to be the first to tell her about their tornado they saw.
An explaination of how a tornado developes.
Tornadoes can happen anywhere.
Tornadoes happen when cool air collides with warm air. Most common are days when it is hot, then a spring or summer storm rolls in bringing cooler air.
It doesn't matter the area one lives in, if the conditions are right, a tornado will happen.
In the past, certain states were labeled as being in "Tornado Alley". Now it has stretched to include states surrounding those states. It was uncommon for Montana, Wyoming, or Colorado to see a tornado, but in a small town in Wyoming in 2005; an F2 tornado wiped out half the town. In 2007, Greensburg Kansas was obviated by an F5 tornado.
There has been an increase in tornado activity. Some claim it is the wrath of God, while others claim it is global warming. Whatever one believes is the cause, it is best to arm yourself with knowledge and expect the unexpected.
More information on tornadoes by a fellow hubber.
Tornadoes are dangerous...Be prepared!
As thrilling as it can be to stand outside watching a tornado form, remember they are dangerous! Check out the link to a video taken on July 20,2011. It shows one of 8 tornadoes that day that hit in an area less than a 15 miles around. This tornado in the video took out a farmhouse three miles from my sister's house. It also distroyed outbuildings and a farmer's collection of combines.
This is a link to a tornado that hit 3 miles from my sister's house.
- June 20, 2011 Long Island, KS Tornado - YouTube
Team Honey Badger chasers Mark 'Storm' Farnik and Zach Young documented an EF3 tornado that struck Norton County, KS on June 20, 2011 for over twelve minutes...