Watch VS Warning: A Cautionary Tale
I was eights years old when Hurricane Hugo tore through the Upstate of South Carolina. It was one of the scariest days of my life. My mother and I lived in a trailer at the time, and I could hear the wind rattle the walls over the sound of the rain pounding the metal roof. The power was out, and we were listening to a battery-powered radio, as it repeated the various warnings and watches across the area. The announcement came over about a severe storm warning and a tornado watch for the area we lived in. My mom said we would be fine. Less than 30 mins later we were now under a tornado warning. We began scrambling to gather our pets and get in the car to drive to our neighbors’ house, but we were too late. A roaring train sound came through, and everything began to shake. My mom grabbed me, and we ran into the bathroom and jumped in the tub. When suddenly we were flipped.
Our trailer had been flipped over, and it could have been much worse if not for the pins that did hold. But it was over quickly and those few moments are a blur. Our home was all but destroyed after whatever hit us passed, my left arm was broken, my mother had a few broken ribs and a bad cut, and our pets didn’t survive.
I did not share this story for sympathy, instead to help show the importance of understanding what a watch or a warning means when it comes to severe weather. Had we taken action when the watch was issued, things may have happened differently.
Tornado Watch: Tornadoes are possible in and near the watch area. A watch area may be vast, spanning several counties and sometimes states. If a watch is issued in your area, start to prepare for severe weather. Check to make sure that there are supplies and that the designated safe area is ready, as well as confirm that everyone understands the plan.
Tornado Warning: A tornado has been spotted or indicated by radar inside the designated warning area. Warning areas are smaller and have shorter time intervals than watches. If a warning is issued for your area, take action and seek shelter immediately. Keep updated with weather alerts to be certain when the warning has expired.
Please learn from my experience and make sure that your family or coworkers understand the difference between a watch and warning, and make sure to have a plan in place.