A tornado watch is declared when the conditions are favorable for tornadoes to form. Residents should tune into NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or the local news for more information and updates.
A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar and there is imminent danger.
Signs of a Tornado
Know the signs of a tornado. Weather forecasting science is not perfect and some tornados occur without a tornado warning. There is no substitute for staying alert. Besides an obviously visible tornado, here are some things to look and listen for:
- Strong, persistent rotation in the cloud base
- Whiling dust or debris on the ground under a cloud base - tornados sometimes have no funnel
- Hail or heavy rain followed by either dead calm or a fast, intense wind shift
- Many tornados are wrapped in heavy precipitation and can't be seen
- Day or night - loud, continuous roar or rumble, which does not fade in a few seconds like thunder
- Night - persistent lowering from the cloud base, illuminated or silhouetted by lightning - especially if it is on the ground or there is a blue-green-white power flash underneath
- Night - small, bright, blue-green to white flashes at ground level near a thunderstorm (as opposed to a silvery lightning up in the clouds). These mean power lines are being snapped by very strong winds, maybe a tornado.
Where to Seek Shelter
When a tornado has been sighted in your area, the following actions may be taken:
- Outside: Take cover immediately in the nearest building. If a building is not close by, residents should move quickly to a low-lying area or ditch to take cover. They should lay face down with their hands covering their heads. All residents should take cover until the "All-Clear" is announced. NOTE: If the tornado warning is accompanied by heavy rain, use extreme caution in low-lying areas as flooding/flash flooding may occur.
- Inside: Take cover immediately. Residents should not go outside. A building offers much better protection than being outside. Residents should move to the lowest level in the building and an interior room/hallway without windows. If possible, take cover under a desk or a table as an additional protective measure. If nothing is suitable to get under, get on the floor in the middle of the room. All residents should take cover until the "all clear" is announced.
Annapolis Tornado: An example of preparedness in action.
On September 1, 2021 , the first day of National Preparedness Month, an EF-2 tornado ripped through Annapolis. With peak wind speeds reaching about 125 mph, the tornado was a disaster the likes of which the city had rarely scene. With all of the devastation left in its wake things could have been much worse. Within minutes of the tornado entering Anne Arundel County an alert was dispatched to Annapolitans through the Prepare Me Annapolis app warning residents to seek shelter. Many residents heeded the warning and prepared themselves and their families. As a result, there was no loss of life or major injury.
Annapolis should take pride in the fact that our office received many calls after the storm from residents looking to victims of the tornado. We always encourage people to check on their neighbors and help when they can. Community helping community is how we stay prepared and recover quickly.