by David Murphy
Whenever the Action News Weather Team and other media announce a Severe Thunderstorm Watch, it means conditions are favorable for potentially damaging storms. By the way, a Tornado Watch is similar, except that conditions are even worse and could also support the development of a tornado. A Severe Thunderstorm Warning means that severe storms have formed and are active in your area. Similarly, a Tornado Warning means a tornado has either been spotted, or is being indicated by Doppler radar.
Whenever a Watch is issued, you should monitor media reports for more information.
If a Warning is issued, you should take immediate action by seeking cover indoors, on the ground floor of a home or commercial building. Why the ground floor? Because trees toppled by thunderstorm winds tend to pose a greater risk to the upper floors of buildings. If a tornado is headed for your community, take immediate cover in the basement. Move to the side of the basement away from the direction from which the tornado is coming. Usually, a tornado approaches from the west or southwest, so in most cases, you want to be on the east or northeast side of the building where the damage is likely to be less. If there is no basement available, move to a first floor closet, or a first floor bathroom, preferably in the middle of the building, or on the side of the building away from the oncoming tornado. Cover yourself with blankets, pillows, or sofa cushions. If no closet is available, crouch along the interior wall of a room on the side of the building opposite from the direction from which the tornado is approaching. Again, cover yourself with cushions or blankets. When a storm has passed and you re-emerge, always be on the look out for additional storms.