A tornado watch means that conditions are right for tornado development.
A tornado warning means that a tornado has been sighted on the ground or that one has been indicated by Doppler Radar.
Here's what to do if a tornado warning is issued for your area or whenever a tornado threatens:
- IN HOMES OR SMALL BUILDINGS: Stay away from windows, doors, and outside walls. Don't open the windows (it's a myth that opening windows protects homes from tornado damage). Go to the basement (if available) or to an interior room on the lowest floor, such as a closet or bathroom. Wrap yourself in overcoats, blankets or towels to protect yourself from flying debris.
- IN SCHOOLS, HOSPITALS, FACTORIES, OR SHOPPING CENTERS: Go to interior rooms and halls on the lowest floor. Stay away from glass enclosed places or areas with wide-span roofs such as auditoriums, gymnasiums, cafeterias and warehouses. Crouch down and cover your head as shown in the drawing.
- IN HIGH-RISE BUILDINGS: Go to interior small rooms or halls. Stay away from exterior walls or glassy areas.
- IN CARS OR MOBILE HOMES: ABANDON THEM IMMEDIATELY. Most tornado deaths occur in cars and mobile homes. If you are in either of those locations, leave them and go to a substantial structure or designated tornado shelter. Remember: If you see a tornado and it looks like it is not moving, it might be heading straight at you.
- IF NO SUITABLE STRUCTURE IS NEARBY: Lie flat in the nearest ditch ravine, culvert or other depression and use your hands to cover your head. Leave as soon as tornado danger has passed to avoid swollen stream waters that often accompany thunderstorms.
Sources: The Austin Office of Emergency Managment and the Norman National Weather Service Forecast Office