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Texas Department of Insurance
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May 3, 2022

Danger, danger! Don’t mix up tornado watches and warnings

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Ever mix up a tornado watch with a tornado warning?

Big difference!

  • A tornado watch means keep an eye out for a possible tornado.
  • A tornado warning means a tornado’s been spotted in your city or county.

Tornado warning in your area? Take cover.

People in a warning zone need to take cover immediately. If you’re in a vehicle, trailer, or mobile home, leave and head to the closest building if you have time.

If you’re in a house or building, go to an interior room, bathroom, or closet on the lowest level. Cover yourself with blankets, towels, or a mattress to stay safe from falling debris. Never open windows; it doesn’t help equalize pressure. But you should shut all your doors because that will help reduce the chance that your roof will blow off.

If you’re driving, don’t stop under bridges or overpasses. They don’t offer protection from tornadic winds or flying debris. If you can’t get to a building, lie flat and face down in the nearest ditch or depression. Cover your head with your hands.

Tornado watch in your area? Get ready.

Tune in to your local weather report to keep track of the tornado watch. Get ready to move to a safe space.

A tornado watch area is often large, covering counties, even states.

If you are under a tornado watch:

  • Review your emergency plans.
  • Bring in or secure outdoor objects that might blow around.
  • Check supplies, such as batteries, flashlights, water, non-perishable food, and medicines.
  • Identify your safe room.

Summing up: A tornado watch means get ready. A tornado warning means move quickly to safety.

Learn more