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Severe Weather Awareness Week: Tornado Watch vs. Warning

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Posted at 5:45 PM, Mar 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-16 17:51:58-04

NORFOLK, Va. - This is Severe Weather Awareness Week, and each day our team of meteorologists will be tackling a different question you may have about severe weather.

We kick things off with Chief Meteorologist Patrick Rockey and the difference between a Tornado Watch and a Tornado Warning.

On a day when storms are threatening, we may see numerous Tornado Watches and Warnings. We get it... it can be confusing and overwhelming.

So, here’s a simple way to remember the difference... let’s bake some cookies!

Prepare your ingredients. Take out the sugar and flour and butter and chocolate chips. All the ingredients for cookies are there. But they aren’t cookies yet.

That’s just like a Tornado Watch. All the ingredients for tornadoes, like wind shear and warm, moist air, are there in the atmosphere, but no tornado has formed yet.

When we mix all the cookie ingredients together and bake them in the oven, we have cookies.

When all the weather conditions come together in just the right way, a tornado forms. That’s when we get a Tornado Warning.

So, when a Tornado Watch is issued, you should start preparing for the possibility of a tornado.

When a Tornado Warning is issued, the threat is real and it’s time to take shelter immediately.

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Check out below how a tornado forms.

Tornado Formation
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