A tornado watch means that the present weather conditions are favorable for the formation of a tornado. A tornado warning means that tornado activity is imminent.
A watch is issued when conditions are favorable for severe weather conditions. This could be for a tornado, flood, thunderstorm, hurricane, etc. This doesn’t mean that severe weather is imminent, it only means that conditions are favorable for severe weather to happen.
Typical watches will cover about 25,000 square miles. There are no set criteria for issuing watches. If current conditions seem consistent with a developing severe weather pattern, a watch can be issued. Watches can be changed and altered based on how the situation develops.
These alerts are based on specific criteria and reports received by the National Weather Service.
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- Tornados in the Southern hemisphere usually rotate in a clockwise direction.
- Tornados in the Northern hemisphere usually rotate in a counterclockwise direction.
- Tornado warnings have about a 70% false alarm rate.