Tornado watch vs. tornado warning: What to know in Tennessee as severe weather hits

by 24USATVApril 2, 2024, 8:20 p.m. 22
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Communities across Tennessee are expected to bet hit with severe weather as the day continues and some areas are already under tornado watches. And while people should be cautious as they go about their day, it isn't as drastic as a tornado warning.

Much of Tennessee and other central and eastern portions of the U.S. are bracing for more severe weather that could lead to risks of the formation of tornados. The storm system has already impacted the power grid system for thousands of homes in Tennessee Tuesday morning, according to a database maintained by USA TODAY.

The National Weather Service has already issued extended a tornado watch for Middle Tennessee until 9 p.m. Tuesday. The weather service said wind gusts are likely to reach up to 75 mph and also warned of Ping-Pong-sized hail. While in East Tennessee, the weather service warns of severe weather that will likely impact the area and parts of Virginia and Southwest North Carolina through the evening.

With the risk of tornadoes across the state and conditions that could change frequently as the day goes on, here's what you need to know about the difference between a tornado watch or a tornado warning, and which areas of the state are being impacted as the day goes on.

When a tornado watch is in place tornadoes are possible in and near the watch area, according to the National Weather Service.

The National Weather Service suggests people who are in the warning area review and discuss their emergency plans, check supplies and have a safe room incase the weather takes a turn for the worse.

When a tornado warning is issued it means a tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. There is imminent danger to life and property.

Here are some suggestions from the National Weather Service if a tornado warning is issued for your area:
• Move to an interior room on the lowest floor of a sturdy building
• If in a mobile home, a vehicle, or outdoors, move to the closest substantial shelter and protect yourself from flying debris

Warnings typically are for a much smaller area that may be impacted by a tornado identified by a forecaster on radar, a trained spotter or law enforcement who is watching the storm, according to National Weather Service.

Tornado warnings are issued by your local forecast office.

A step above a tornado warning, issued by the National Weather Service in “exceedingly rare” situations, when:
• A severe threat to human life or catastrophic damage is imminent or ongoing.
• Visual or radar evidence such as a reliable source confirms a tornado or a radar picks up the signature of a ball of debris inside the tornado.

Latest information on forecast in East, Middle and West Tennessee

East TN storm risk:East Tennessee storm upgraded to enhanced risk, with severe winds and large hail forecast

Memphis weather:Severe thunderstorms to bring damaging winds, chance of tornadoes to Mid-South

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