Hazardous Weather: Tornadoes

It's hard to forget the pictures of the damage caused by four killer tornadoes as they roared across south Georgia early on Valentine’s Day 2000. The twisters were responsible for 18 deaths and major property damage.

Watches and warnings are usually issued by the National Weather Service before bad weather hits, but what do they mean?

Bob Goree, a NWS meteorologist, says, "A tornado watch is issued before the weather materializes and moves into the area. If you feel like your area will be threatened, say, in the middle of the night, you should make all attempts to get you and your family out of a mobile home before the weather moves in.

So the best time to consider preparations is when the watch is issued. The warning means the danger may be very close.

Bob Goree says, "The warning is a much more urgent message that our Doppler weather radars and our other data that we have, maybe weather spotters and reports, show severe weather is occurring or about to occur in your area."

By far, the most important thing is to be knowledgeable of the overall threat well before a tornado bears down on our area.

Each year about 1,000 tornadoes are observed in the United States and claim some 65 lives.